To bring out the best flavor of the turkey, use a dry salt brine instead of liquid brine. It's almost as effective a preventing moisture loss and much easier to prepare than a standard brine.
12-pound Heirloom Bronze Turkey
RealSalt Kosher sea salt
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Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator 1-2 days, depending on size. Salt the turkey with a fairly thick coat of salt. Alternately, you may carefully separate the skin from the breast and thighs and rub the salt directly on the meat under the skin. Loosely cover salted turkey with plastic or cheesecloth and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Pat dry before roasting. Stuff with an old traditional meat dressing if desired. Insert thermometer into the center of an inner thigh muscle, being careful not to touch the bone. Quite often turkeys come with a pop up thermometer which is handier for determining when the turkey is done. Cover bird and place in roaster/oven at 325°F. Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F--the termperature that activates the pop up thermometer. To brown the bird, uncover for the last 30 minutes or so, probably close to when the the temperature reaches 155°F. The general rule of thumb is to cook about 20 minutes per pound for an 8-pound turkey and about 15 minutes per pound for a 20-pound turkey, adjusting for variables such as size of bird, added stuffing, actual oven temperature, accuracy of meat thermometer, etc. It is most important not to overcook the turkey so keep a careful watch close to the end of the estimated cooking time.
Servings per Pound of Turkey
For turkeys smaller than 16 pounds, estimate one pound per serving (this accounts for bone weight). For larger birds, a bit less is fine; they have a higher meat-to-bone ratio. But if your goal is to have ample leftovers, aim for 1½ pounds per person whatever the turkey’s size.
For 8 people, buy a 12-pound turkey.
The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. You’ll need about 24 hours per four to five pounds of turkey. You also can put the turkey in a sink of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and plan for about 30 minutes per pound.