1 cup sugar
1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed
TO BRINE THE TURKEY:
Dissolve salt and sugar in 2 gallons cold water in a large stockpot. (You may also dissolve in warm water, but make sure the brining solution is COLD when you put in the turkey.)
Add 2 handfuls of additional spices of your choice. Here are some ideas:
- sliced ginger, scallion, peppercorns, bay leaves
- zest and peel of 1 orange, cloves, cinnamon sticks, juniper berries
Add in the turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (not more than 40 degrees) 12-24 hours. Make sure the turkey is completely submerged in the solution.
TO ROAST THE TURKEY:
Remove the turkey from the brining solution, rinse inside and out, and completely dry. You can pat the skin with paper towels. Or you can additionally leave the turkey exposed in the refrigerator overnight, resting in the roasting pan, to dry out the skin. (Some people expose the turkey to a running fan for 1 hour!)
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Place the bird on roasting rack.
Add aromatics of your choice like apples, oranges, rosemary, and thyme to the turkey's cavity. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with vegetable oil (you can use butter too). You can also slide some herbs underneath the skin of the breast, but be sure not to puncture the skin.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.