15-pound turkey: $14.55
Kosher salt: $2.39
Wine: $4 for 750-ml bottle
Butter: $1 (sale price)
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Fresh herbs: $2
The bird is the star of the meal, but it’s usually reasonably priced. Figure 1 1/4 pounds of turkey per person. Frozen birds and store brands are often on sale. If you are buying a frozen turkey and brining it, try to find one that has the least amount of added solution such as broth so it’s not too salty. Expect to pay more for fresh, Amish and organic turkeys, from $2.09 per pound. Heritage or wild birds will cost more, too, upward of $70 for a 15-pound bird.
Basic bird: You’ll only need 2 cups of a 3-pound box of salt for brining, but it’s cost effective to buy the larger box. Dissolve the salt and 1/2 cup sugar in 2 gallons water in a large bucket or stock pot large enough for the bird. Brine (soak) 24 hours before roasting. Rinse, pat the turkey dry and rub with a little oil; season the cavity and outside with salt, pepper and any other seasonings you like. Place on a rack in a roasting pan and add broth, water or wine or a mix of all to bottom of pan.
Dress it up: Brine the bird as above. Melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter with 2 cups of any kind of inexpensive white wine. Soften 1/2 stick of butter and mix with fresh herbs such as chives, thyme and sage and rub this under the skin and on the outside of the turkey. Soak a 10-by-13-inch piece of cheesecloth that’s been folded in at least three layers in the butter mixture. Squeeze out the excess liquid and cover the turkey breast with the cloth. Roast the turkey and baste the cheesecloth with the butter-wine mixture.