*For optimal food safety and even doneness, the USDA recommends cooking stuffing separately. However, if you choose to stuff poultry or game birds, it’s necessary to use an accurate food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum temperature of 165°F. Cooking home-stuffed poultry or game birds is riskier than cooking those that are not stuffed. Even if the poultry or game bird itself has reached the safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F, the stuffing may not have reached same temperature. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in food-borne illness. Do not stuff poultry or game birds that will be grilled, smoked, fried or micro waved, because it will never get hot enough in the center to be safe.
In large clean bucket or stainless steel stockpot, mix 2 gallons cold water and 2 cups kosher (coarse) salt until salt is dissolved. Add turkey (brine should cover bird). Cover; refrigerate 8 to 12 hours. Remove turkey from brine; thoroughly rinse under cool water, gently rubbing inside and outside of turkey to release salt. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Follow directions for roast turkey to prepare turkey for roasting. In medium bowl, toss 1 quartered medium onion, 1 coarsely chopped carrot, 1 coarsely chopped stalk celery, 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Spoon into turkey cavity. Place turkey in roasting pan and add thermometer as directed in recipe. Brush all sides of turkey with remaining melted butter. Roast turkey as directed in recipe. Remove turkey from oven. Remove vegetables from cavity.
Both fresh and frozen turkeys are great. If using a frozen turkey, just remember to allow extra time to thaw it. To thaw a 12- to 15-pound whole turkey, place turkey (in its original wrap) in a baking pan in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
Place turkey, breast up, on cutting board. Remove ties or skewers. While gently pulling leg away from body, cut through joint between thigh and body. Separate drumstick and thigh by cutting through connecting joint.
Serve drumsticks and thighs whole or carved. To carve, remove meat from drumstick by slicing at an angle, and slice thigh by cutting even slices parallel to the bone.
Carefully cut down through breast meat next to bone, removing one side of breast.
Cut turkey breast into slices.