In a pot on your stovetop, combine the salt, honey, and herbs with 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer and stir until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and mix in the remaining water. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Pour the cooled brine into a large container and add the turkey. (I’ve used food-grade plastic 5-gallon buckets in the past. Or, you can line a large stockpot with a oven bag and place the brine and turkey in the bag.)
If the turkey doesn’t want to stay full submerged, or tries to float to the top, weigh it down with a clean plate.
Leave the turkey and brine in a cool place for 12-18 hours. If you have room in your fridge, that’s great. I never do, but thankfully it’s always cool enough in the shop. (Just make sure if you’re leaving it outside that it’s not accessible to any curious animals.)
After the brining period is complete, pull the turkey out of the brine and rinse under cool water. This will remove the excess brine to make sure the finished bird isn’t too salty. Dry the turkey completely (I use paper towels for this).
Set the turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, breast side up, and stuff it with the apples and onions.
Use a spatula to gently separate the skin from the meat around the breast and thighs. Stuff generously with garlic sage butter.
Garlic Sage Butter Recipe:
tablespoons butter, softened
/4 cup sage leaves
In a food processor, combine the softened butter, garlic, and sage. Process until smooth.
If you don’t have a food processor, simply mince the garlic and sage with your knife, and using a fork to thoroughly mash them into the butter.
Tie the legs together with a bit of twine, and tuck the wings close to the body. If you have leftover garlic sage butter, rub it on the turkey’s skin.
Pour the basting liquid in the bottom of the pan, and place in a preheated 325 degree oven.
Cooking times will vary, but plan on about 13-15 minutes per pound. Baste the turkey every 45-60 minutes, and if the breast starts to get too brown, cover with a piece of foil. (I had to do this about 2/3 of the way through the cooking time with this turkey).
The turkey is done when it fills your house with a mouth-watering aroma and your meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when you stick it into the thickest part of the turkey.
Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting.
Some people caution against making gravy with the drippings from a brined turkey, as it can be too salty, but whenever I’ve made this recipe, it results in the most perfect gravy ever. Just be sure to taste it plenty as you make it to check for saltiness– and you can always dilute it with some extra broth if it ends up being a tad on the salty side.