Lemon-Brined Rosemary and Basil Roasted Turkey with Stuffing

I have been eating and making turkeys for thanksgiving for pretty much my entire life and I have had some really good ones and some pretty bad ones over the years.  After years of trial and error this recipe has proven to be an absolute winner.  The turkey comes out of the oven perfectly moist and jam packed with flavour.  If you are looking for a Christmas dinner recipe this one will not disappoint.

Lemon Brine

Ingredients:

4 litres cold water
1 cup plus 2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 Tbs. black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Directions:

In a very large pot, combine 1 litre of the water with the salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley.  Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved.  Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 litres of cold water.  Add the turkey, being sure it is completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

Traditional Herb Stuffing

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. parsley
1 cup turkey or chicken broth
8 cups stale bread broken into 2.5 centimetre pieces

Directions:

Melt butter in large skillet and add all ingredients except the bread and broth.  Cook over medium heat until onions are soft.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the bread and broth and mix well.  Stuff turkey loosely, or bake stuffing separately in buttered and covered baking dish for about 45  minutes.

Roast Turkey

Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
1 head garlic, minced
Good handful chopped fresh rosemary
Handful chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. chopped sage
1 Tbs. chopped thyme
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 whole turkey

Directions:

  1. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, parsley, and black pepper and set aside.
  2. Remove turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry.  Remove any excess fat deposits.  Loosen the skin from the breast.  This is done by slowly working your fingers between the breast and the skin.  Work it loose to the end of the drumstick being careful not to tear the skin.
  3. Using your hand, spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin and down the thigh and leg.  Rub the remainder of the rosemary mixture over the outside of the breast.  Use cocktail sticks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat.
  4. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting tin.  Add just enough white wine (preferably Four Winds Vineyard Riesling) to cover the bottom of the pan.  Roast according to the weight of your turkey.  Roast in a preheated 180°C oven.  When finished, a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh should read 82°C and the juices should run clear when poked with a  fork.  Cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes.  Remove stuffing and carve.