1 turkey (15 pounds), giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved for another use
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2-3 cups white wine
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1 large piece of cheesecloth, folded into a square
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, mixed with favorite fresh herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium broth and water or wine for roasting pan or more as needed
1 large apple, cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 whole bulb of garlic, top 1/4 sliced off
Makes 12 generous servings.
Brine the turkey if desired by soaking it for 24 hours in 2 gallons of water that has 2 cups kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar dissolved in it. Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine mixture; let soak.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it. Sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper; add pieces of apple and the garlic bulb. Place several apple and onion wedges in the neck end, and tuck the wing tips under the turkey to hold the flap of skin in place. Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Gently loosen the skin under the breast and some of the thigh, and rub some of the herb butter underneath the skin. Rub the remaining herb butter all over the turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add broth, wine or water to the pan.
Lift the cheesecloth out of the liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and sides of the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste the cheesecloth and rest of turkey with the butter and wine mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 2 1/2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.
After 2 1/2 hours, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. Cook 1 more hour, baste again after 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven when the internal meat temperature in the breast, thighs and legs is 165 degrees.
Transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make pan gravy if desired.
To make gravy: Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup white wine or water to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck. Stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices, and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. Whisk in a small amount of flour if you want thicker gravy. Season the gravy as desired. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.
Nutritional information per 5 ounces cooked turkey: 317 calories (41 percent from fat ), 15 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat ), 0 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams protein, 251 mg sodium, 128 mg cholesterol, 39 mg calcium, no fiber.