** Begin this recipe up to three days in advance of cooking **
For the brine
1 whole fresh turkey (figure about 1.5 lbs, raw, per per person)
1 box of Morton's Coarse Kosher salt
For the roast
aromatics: celery, carrots, yellow onions, heaps of garlic
herbs: thyme, rosemary, sage
fats: butter, olive oil
(more) salt & pepper
a large, high-sided turkey roasting pan (pick up a disposable foil "turkey pan" from the grocery store if you need one)
Up to three days prior to cooking, place your clean, dry turkey on a sheet pan and coat liberally with kosher salt, working in the cavity, underneath, and on top of the skin.
Cover the turkey with parchment paper and aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator.
One day prior to cooking, prepare your roasting ingredients. Break down vegetables into rough pieces, halve a head of garlic, peel another head of garlic and halve cloves lengthwise, wash your herbs, and put a couple of sticks of butter on the counter to soften.
** This is a key "simplicity" step! Depending on the size of your turkey, it could takes 4 or more hours to cook. Prepping your vegetables ahead of time means that you don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn and make a huge mess in your kitchen just to get the bird into the oven on time.
Day of cooking, preheat oven to 450º. Remove the turkey and the prepared vegetables from the refrigerator. The turkey's skin will have dried out and the sheet pan will have likely collected juices. Discard them and pat the turkey dry using clean paper towel.
Season the cavity with fresh salt and pepper. Arrange sliced garlic cloves between the meat and the skin throughout the entire bird. Insert some of the aromatics and herbs, including the halved head of garlic, into the cavity. Close the cavity by trussing with butcher's twine.
Arrange a bed of celery in a roasting pan with high sides. Place the turkey on top. Arrange remaining aromatics and herbs around the turkey. Cover the entire turkey with softened butter, then liberally coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add about one inch of water to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Place the turkey in the preheated oven and drop the temperature to 400º. Roast according to the weight of the turkey - generally this is about 15 minutes per pound of raw turkey. Cover with foil once desired browning is achieved.
Don't worry and don't be tempted to open the oven much, if at all.
In time you will have a fall-off-the-bone Thanksgiving turkey to impress your closest family and friends...and that's what to look out for. Just like a giant chicken, when the leg joint wants to separate easily, and the juices run clear in that area, your bird is likely done. You can double check by inserting a digital thermometer into the breast meat and looking for ~170º. And don't be tempted to cut into it right away; allow a rest of at least a 20-30 minutes.
Lastly, if you've read this far down you absolutely deserve the retro secret to perfect carving for your "Perfect Turkey" day!