Let me begin by saying that this was the first year I hosted Thanksgiving. What an undertaking!
Also a very overdue, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who ever made a thanksgiving turkey that I consumed without pausing to appreciate the art, patience, and time it took to achieve this culinary feat (namely, my grandmother, great-grandmother, and my friend Susan).
Below is a picture of "My Bird" as I lovingly referred to it. In preparation for hosting a dinner for 18 people, I had pre-ordered a 24 pound, "free range, organic turkey." This is not it. Due to a mix-up at the store, my original bird was lost. This bird became "My Bird" and the fact that it was free helped us bond.
If he looks a little oversized for the roasting pan (vintage Lulu) it's because he was... but it all worked out in the end. He's coated in butter mixed with freshly chopped sage, rosemary, and thyme. He's stuffed with a large bundle of the same herbs and a couple lemons--oh, and a stick of butter. Yes, the clock on my oven reads "4:36" and yes, that's A.M.
Many hours later (no basting!) he came out like this:
I had brined him the day before in a new 5-gallon bucket following Alton Brown's instructions. He slow-roasted at about 275 degrees until his thermometer said he was done. All told, it took about 23 hours to pull it off and I would do it all the same--if not slower-- next time.
My grandfather, who made a 12-hour drive to our house for the holiday, carved the turkey. I'm certain it tasted better than it would have otherwise because of this fact.
What was left of My Bird, after the bones had been picked clean for leftovers, was set to simmer all day yesterday. After some straining and more picking-through, I have almost two gallons of savory, delicious turkey broth. Can you say, "Turkey noodle soup?"
One more thing: Avery really like the turkey. She ate a lot of it. Check out what happened next on YouTube.