¾ cup kosher Salt
¾ cup Sugar
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large Onion, peeled and chopped
¼ cup chopped Celery
1 Leek, white and light green parts only, sliced and cleaned
2 Bay leaves
1 tablespoon Black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole Coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon Red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon Fennel seeds
2 whole Star anise
3 sprigs fresh Thyme
1 12-14-pound naturally fed, free-range Turkey (smaller birds tend to have better flavor so for a crowd, better to do a couple smaller birds than 1 ginormous one)
4 tablespoons Olive oil or butter
Fresh Rosemary branches (optional)
Plan to start the turkey brine about 3 days before the big dinner.
Pull out a big stockpot (16-quarts or larger) and bring 2 gallons water to a boil. Add salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Turn off heat. Add carrots, onions, celery, leek, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, red pepper, fennel seeds, star anise and thyme. Cool this liquid to at least room temperature. Remove giblets from the bird and save to include in gravy or dressing later. Add the bird to the brine. It can be weighed down with a plate or a stove grate, if necessary, so it is completely submerged in brine. Refrigerate for up to 72 hours, then remove the bird from the brine, pat it dry and allow it to come to room temperature before roasting. It is critical that the bird not be ice cold from the fridge when it’s time to cook.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Dry the turkey inside and out, then loosely fill with stuffing (it will expand as the bird roasts), and truss it up.
Place the bird in a large roasting pan and roast until it begins to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 350°F, and roast for about 12 minutes more per pound, until internal temperature in the deepest part of the leg reaches 165-170°F. Total roasting time should be about 3 hours, but start checking temp at around 2½ hours. Baste occasionally with olive oil or butter and pan juices. Use rosemary branches as a brush to add a subtle aroma.
About halfway through cooking, turn the bird 180 degrees in the oven so it browns and cooks evenly. If the turkey starts darken too much, cover it loosely with a piece of foil. When the internal temperature reaches 165-170°F in the deepest part of the leg, pull the turkey out of the oven and let stand, covered with foil, for at least 20 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute and finish the cooking process. The leg temp should reach between 170°F and 180°F as it sits. Finish off the other menu items while you wait. Spoon out the stuffing, carve and eat!