The day before the cooking of the bird is for brining. This is a more efficient way to thaw your turkey as most arrive frozen. It also infuses the bird with savory flavors. A basic brine is just salt and water, or salt and sugar and water. It's like a bath. You'll need a large stock pot or a clean bucket- I have used both over the years. I like to soak mine for a day before but even an hour soaking will change the flavor and have a good effect.
counter culture kids brine:
1 gallon of water
1 cup of salt, i like to use kosher sea salt
1 cup of sugar
a lemon whole, cute simply in quarters
black pepper corns, allspice, cumin, coriander, green cardamon pods, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, turmeric, ginger and garlic
Bring it to a rolling boil and let it boil covered for as long as you can - I let it go at least an hour. Then let sit for a bit. You want it to cool down before putting the frozen bird in. When removing the bird from the brine, reserve some of the fluid for basting during roasting and all of the spices to be added into the stock later on.
Then, I think on how I am going to layer the bird. There are 3 basic layers for flavoring. The bottom later is the vegetables under the birds that roast with coating in the fats that drip off in the baking, and will eventually make up the flavor profile of the gravy. The middle layer is comprised of the herbs and aromatics put with in the belly hollowed out belly of the bird. The top layer is made from the spices the coat or wash the top of the bird in.
This year the winning flavor combination was
carrots parsnips and daikon root with a 1/2 cup of bone broth on the bottom
onions ginger garlic and clementine in the middle
and honey turmeric ginger black pepper cloves nutmeg cinnamon, allspice, cardamon, and cacao nibs rub on top
Which beat beat out:
sweet potatoes and onions on the bottom
garlic and ginger and sage in the middle
olive oil and parsley thyme sage and rosemary wash
and a woven blanket of bacon drizzled with maple syrup up top
Roasting time is around 3-5 hours, depending on weight and temperature. I always try to give myself at least 5 hours for baking, as I open the oven door to put in other dishes above the birds while they roast. Note to self: 40 pounds is too much for the bottom rung of the oven and can possibly result in grease fire. :) Happily avoided this year!
After enjoying eating the meat, pick the bones clean and place them in the stock pot. Add in Burdock Root, Seaweed, mushrooms, and one whole onion, carrots and celery. Allow to boil over the next few days until the bones are easily reduced with the potato masher. Strain. For use as stock. This can be frozen and the stock cubes can be used in a variety of dishes.