1/4 cup Fennel Seeds (divided)
For the Brine: In small heavy sauté pan, stir fennel seeds over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant and toasted.
5 quarts Water
1 cup Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Sugar
5 Rosemary Sprigs (divided)
3/4 cup Thyme Sprigs (divided)
zest of 3 Lemons (finely grated)
8 Garlic cloves (bruised and peeled)
1 1/2 tablespoons whole Black Peppercorns
In large saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil over high heat. Add salt, sugar, 4 rosemary sprigs, 1/2 cup of thyme sprigs, lemon zest, garlic, peppercorns, and two-thirds of toasted fennel seeds and remove from heat.
One 8 to 11 pound Whole Turkey
Pour hot brine into a container large enough to hold turkey and add remaining 4 quarts of cold water to cool brine. Place turkey into brine, making sure it is entirely submerged. Cover container tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 12 hours or overnight.
For the Fennel Butter: Crush remaining one-third fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, transfer remaining one-third fennel seeds to a cutting board. Using a rolling pin or bottom of a sauté pan, crush fennel seeds.
10 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (divided)
In a small sauté pan, stir 5 tablespoons of butter and crushed fennel seeds over medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until butter has melted and mixture is fragrant.
1 large Onion (coarsely chopped)
2 Carrots (peeled and coarsely chopped)
2 Celery Stalks (coarsely chopped)
For the Roast Vegetables: Position oven rack on lowest rung in oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Remove turkey from brine and discard brine. Pat turkey dry (inside and outside) with a clean towel. Stuff main turkey cavity with half of each onion, carrots, and celery, and tie turkey legs together with butcher’s twine.
Place remaining onion, carrots, and celery over bottom of roasting pan. Set roasting pan rack over vegetables in roaster and place turkey on rack. Brush some fennel butter over turkey.
Cover and roast turkey for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Baste turkey with more fennel butter and continue roasting uncovered for about 1 hour longer, basting occasionally with more fennel butter, or until skin is crisp and brown and a meat thermometer reads 165˚F when inserted into thickest part of thigh under drumstick and closest to body.
Transfer turkey to a carving board. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before carving.
3 cups Turkey or Chicken Stock
For the Gravy: Set roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat. Add turkey stock, any remaining fennel butter, remaining 1 rosemary sprig, and remaining 1/4 cup thyme sprigs to pan drippings in roasting pan, and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring often to scrape up brown bits. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain pan juices through a fine sieve, and discard solids.
1/4 cup plain Flour
In a medium heavy saucepan, melt remaining 5 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until well blended and still pale golden. Whisk in pan juices and bring mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until gravy thickens slightly. Season gravy to taste with salt and pepper.
Carve turkey and serve it with gravy.
1. Make sure the turkey cavity is completely empty before cooking.
2. Putting vegetables inside the cavity increases moisture because the veggies create steam and steam the turkey from the inside out.
3. When brushing butter over the finished bird, be careful not to cross contaminate. Use new butter and a clean brush. Or, reserve butter from the beginning of the cooking process.