This method begins with brining, which takes from one to two days (soak smaller birds for one day, larger ones for two). An 18-pound or smaller bird is easiest for a home cook to handle when brining. You can brine in a special bag or container but you must be able to fit it into the refrigerator. Do not leave brined turkey outdoors.
3 gallons water
3 cups brown sugar
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4 cups coarse salt
2 tablespoons pink peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cloves
6 bay leaves
2 sticks cinnamon
6 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 fresh turkey (14 to 18 pounds)
1. In a large stock pot, combine 1 gallon of the water, sugar, salt, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 gallons of water. The brine should be cool before you use it. If necessary, add ice to help chill it.
3. Put the turkey in a large container or cooler. Pour in the brine. Refrigerate.
4. Let the turkey sit for 24 hours.
5. Remove the turkey from the brine and transfer to a large bowl. Without covering it, let it sit in the refrigerator for 2 hours. This will help it crisp and turn golden.
6. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
7. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Have on hand a large roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack.
8. Place the turkey on the rack. Roast for 1 hour.
9. Turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees and continue roasting (time the bird for 10 minutes per pound) or until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 155 degrees.
10. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover with foil. Let it rest in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes (the temperature will rise 10 degrees to a safe 165 degrees).
11. Carve the turkey and serve with the pan juices.