It goes without saying that the turkey is the “piece de resistance” of the Thanksgiving meal, the part of the meal that is most likely to succeed or fail. Therefore, it is imperative to use a virtually fail-proof recipe. But, nothing is guaranteed as all ovens cook differently, and each bird is genetically different.
We use only fresh (non-frozen) birds. When locally grown organic turkeys are not available, the Beechwood Inn is pleased to use fresh turkeys from Bell and Evans, of Fredericksburg, PA. Their turkey is all-natural, minimally processed, no artificial ingredients, no antibiotics administered, and is fed an all vegetable diet containing no preservatives and no animal by-products. http://www.bellandevans.com/
Here is the recipe we have been using with great success for the last several years (although each year we will vary the herbs, rubs and spices to suite the accompanying seasonal menu):
Combine all brine ingredients with the 2 quarts of water in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, add to cold water in at least a clean 5 gallon bucket and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
The night before place turkey, breast side down, in brine, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 6 hours). Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
Remove the turkey from the brine solution and discard brine. Rinse turkey in cold water inside and out. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Use a sturdy roasting pan with a rack in the pan. Fill 1/3 of the pan with chicken broth and dry white wine. Add the celery and carrots. Truss the bird before roasting if not sold that way. Mix olive oil, softened butter and garlic paste and rub entire bird with mixture. Rub smoked ancho chile powder over and under skin. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. To infuse the meat with flavor, fill the cavity of the bird with the aromatics.
Place turkey on roasting pan. Place in 450 degree oven for 30 minutes and then reduce heat to 325. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, use a digital thermometer, until internal temp reaches 160 degrees. Tent the bird loosely with foil during the first hour of cooking and cover it again if the skin starts getting too brown. The temperature will rise while the turkey is resting, so be sure not to let it rise above 160 while cooking in oven. Baste the turkey every 45 minutes or so with more softened butter and the juices in the bottom of the pan.
When the turkey is done remove from the oven and turn the bird upside down to rest. This will permit the juices to flow down and into the breast. Allow turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
While the turkey is resting use a fat separator to separate turkey drippings to make gravy.