For brine solution: 8 quarts water 2 cups Kosher salt 1 cup honey 2 bunches fresh thyme 8 garlic cloves, peeled 2 Tablespoons coarse ground pepper
For turkey: 12-18 lb turkey 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1/4 plus 2 Tablespoons orange juice, warmed 6 slices thick gf bacon 1 large onion, cut into quarters 2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces 2 bay leaves 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled 2 cups gf chicken stock
For brine: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until the salt dissolves. Wash and dry the turkey and place it inside a large plastic bag inside a large pot. Pour in the brine solution and seal the plastic bag, pushing the air out. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine solution and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well inside and out then pat dry and place on a rack in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix together butter, salt, pepper thyme and orange juice. Rub the orange juice mixture all over the turkey, inside and out. Fill the cavity with the onion, celery, bay leaves and garlic. Truss the turkey. Lay the bacon slices over the breast. Pour the chicken stock into the roasting pan and place in oven. Roast the turkey for an hour and then baste with pan juices every 20 minutes. When turkey is done, remove from oven and let rest, tented with foil for 20-30 minutes.
Read the directions all the way through to allow enough time. The turkey should marinate in the brine solution for 24 hours.
Cooking time: We roasted an unstuffed 12.5 lb turkey for 3 hours. If your turkey is larger, check the turkey’s internal temperature at 3.5 hours and roast up to 4.25 hours for a 18 lb unstuffed turkey. The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the breast reaches 160 degrees F and the thigh juices run clear.
We served this turkey with a fabulous Giblet Gravy ( see recipe under ’Sauces Marinades & Salsas’). The gravy is made by first making a turkey broth. You can prepare the gravy up to the point of adding pan juices, as soon as the turkey goes into the oven.