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In the kitchen at Wheatleigh, the chefs soak the turkeys in a salt-water brine before slowly roasting them for the Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel. The roast turkey is served with a creamy giblet gravy and a savory pear, chestnut and sage dressing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh turkey, about 16 lb.
  • 1 lb. (about 2 1/2 cups) kosher salt
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Remove the giblets and neck, if included, and reserve for making gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water.

In a large pot or 5-gallon bucket, combine the salt and 1 gallon of cold water and stir to mix. Carefully set the turkey in the water and add more cold water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Refrigerate or place the container in a very cool place (32° to 40°F) for 8 to 12 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Let the turkey stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450°F.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley and half of the butter and toss to mix. Pack the body and neck cavities loosely with the vegetables. With kitchen twine, truss the legs together loosely and secure the neck flap to the back with a couple of trussing pins or sturdy toothpicks. Rub the turkey with half of the remaining butter.

Place the turkey on its side on a rack in a large roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the turkey on its other side and roast for 15 minutes more. Reduce the heat to 325°F. Soak a double-thick piece of cheesecloth, 2 feet square, in the remaining butter. Turn the turkey, breast side up, and place the cheesecloth over the breast. Add about 1/2 cup water to the pan. Continue roasting, basting with the pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F, and inserted into the thigh registers 175°F. If the breast begins to cook too quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Total roasting time should be about 3 hours.

Transfer the turkey to a warmed platter, cover loosely with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

Serves 12.
Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachusetts