I write this week’s column before the midterm elections so my nerves are shot. However, because we are just two weeks away from Thanksgiving it is the perfect time to let our annual fool-proof turkey recipe help set the table for a fruitful holiday.

(NOTE: This recipe is for an 18- to 20-pound unstuffed turkey, which decreases cooking time. Adjust for your bird and oven.)

For brine:

7 Quarts (28 cups) water

1 and 1/2 Cups coarse salt

6 Bay leaves

3 Tablespoons whole

black peppercorns

1 Teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

1 Bottle dry white wine

2 Medium onions,

thinly sliced

6 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 Bunch fresh thyme

1 Bunch fresh rosemary

Combine all brine ingredients, submerge turkey and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Remove bird from brine and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Liberally season bird, inside and out, with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper or your favorite seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for another 24 hours.

Bring the bird to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Fold wing tips under turkey and place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan and let stand.

For basting:

3 Sticks unsalted butter, plus 4 tablespoons


1 Bottle dry white wine

Place rack on lowest level in oven. Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine sticks of butter and wine in a saucepan and warm until melted. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters, a 4-layer (18-inches square), and immerse in mixture; let soak.

Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Fold neck flap under and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with softened butter.

Spread soaked cheesecloth evenly over the breast, about halfway down the sides of the turkey. Place turkey legs first in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue to cook for 2 and 1/2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes.

After the third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so breast is facing back of oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. Baste fragile skin carefully. Cook 1 hour, basting after 30 minutes.

After the fourth hour, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without poking bone. Temperature should reach 180° and the turkey should be golden brown. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving pan juices. Let turkey stand 30 minutes before carving.

SCHOP! Tip: To prevent stringy sliced breast meat, after letting the turkey rest, cut the entire breasts off the bone then slice each breast against the grain. Slices will be moist and each will have some of that decadent skin.

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for more than 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!