Brining is an excellent way to cook pasture raised and organic turkeys that are not pumped full of the artificial additives that keep conventional turkeys moist.
1 cup salt
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
2 lemons, quartered
1 Tbls whole black peppercorns
3 onions, quartered
5 carrots, cut into big chunks
Additional salt and pepper
Your favorite stuffing, optional
1 12-14 lb turkey (fresh or defrosted, giblets removed)
In a large stockpot, combine salt, sugar, lemons, and black peppercorns. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Drop heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Remove from heat and cool completely. Add turkey to the brine, and add enough water to just cover. Let sit for 6-8 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Remove the turkey from the brine. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place the onions and carrots in a roasting pan. Season the turkey generously inside and out with salt and pepper, and stuff with your favorite stuffing, if desired. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables. Roast on the bottom rack of oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the breast is well browned.
Remove the turkey and cover the breast and any other well-browned portion with double-thick aluminum foil. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Return the turkey to the oven and roast for another 1 - 1.5 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted to the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone.) Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 15 minutes before serving.