If you need a brine recipe, we love Martha Stewart's. It's not quite as good as ours but uses fewer ingredients. You can't get the very best turkey without it!
DO NOT STUFF.
Stuffing must come to 165 degrees to be safely cooked. This will cause the breast to overcook significantly.
DRY, DRY, DRY SKIN.
We love a super crispy, fairly salty skin. Use paper towels to pat dry. If you can leave it in the refrigerator uncovered for 8 to 12 hours, that's ideal. The dryer the skin, the crispier it will get.
SEASON WELL INSIDE AND OUT.
First, just worry about the cavity. Salt and pepper heavily. Shove everything you like in there. We use a whole head of garlic sliced in half, a bunch of tied up herbs, and a lemon quartered. You'll do the outside later.
TIE THE LEGS IN A CROSS AND TUCK THE WINGS UNDER THE BODY.
USE A RACK AND A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOMETER.
We can help you with these. A remote, probe-style, programmable thermometer is life-changing on Turkey Day.
PUT AN HERB OR SEASONED BUTTER UNDER THE SKIN OF THE BREAST AND ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE BIRD.
Our favorite: This is enough for a 12 to 16 lb turkey, adjust as necessary. Two sticks softened butter, 2 tablespoons mild (not extra virgin) olive or other oil, 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest, 4 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 pressed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 tablespoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mash/stir with a fork until well combined (the lemon juice doesn't easily stir into butter, but keep mixing and it will happen after a few minutes). This mixture was adapted from Gordon Ramsey's Thanksgiving Turkey video and it's wonderful! Take a whiff of it; you'll fall in love with how fresh it smells. Insert 2/3 of this mixture under the skin and rub the rest on the outside. All over.
DRIZZLE AND SALT.
Turkey needs all the protection from a good layer of fat that it can get. Drizzle with plenty (2 to 3 teaspoons at least) of oil and sprinkle with KOSHER salt - heavily. Do not use table salt - YUCK!
CREATE A SHIELD.
This is from Alton Brown! Fold a piece of tin foil into a triangle. Place it over the breast pointing toward the tied together legs to cover the breast. Press and mold it. Use it later when the breast is brown enough - it will fit perfectly.
START HOT, TURN DOWN.
Preheat oven to 430 degrees. Put the turkey in and set your timer for 20 minutes. Remove when the timer goes off, baste with butter from the bottom of the pan. Apply the foil shield to just the breast. Put the turkey back in then turn down the oven to 350. Roast until 165 degrees on the thermometer, measured just under the leg.
REST FOR 15 MINUTES THEN CARVE WITH AN ELECTRIC KNIFE.
Cover the bird with tin foil and a clean bath towel to keep it warm. We recommend an old-school $20 electric knife. This makes anyone a master turkey carver.