Total time: About 4 hours after 1 hour salt-curing
Servings: 10 to 12 with leftovers
Note: Heritage turkeys are still available at Bristol Farms (most locations), www.bristolfarms.com; and Whole Foods Markets (all Southern California locations), www.wholefoods.com. For a 19- to 20-pound bird, leave the cover on for 2 1/2 hours and then proceed with step 4.
1 (14- to 16-pound) heritage or free-range turkey, giblets and neck removed
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mild pure ground chile pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Stuffing of choice
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 large bunch fresh thyme
2 large heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey; set aside for making the gravy. Rinse the turkey, drain well and pat almost dry. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Combine the salt, sugar, chile pepper and paprika in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the turkey to thickly coat the skin. Set aside for 1 hour.
2. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the salt mixture off the turkey. Wipe clean with damp paper towels. Lightly pack the stuffing into the neck and cavity and tie the legs closed.
3. Place the turkey in the bottom of a roasting pan with a lid big enough to accommodate the turkey. Arrange the herbs and garlic cloves evenly around the turkey. Cover the pan and place it in the oven. Lower the setting to 325 degrees and roast for 2 hours.
4. Remove the lid from the pan. Spread the butter evenly over the turkey's skin. Raise the oven setting to 350 degrees. Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast or thigh reads 165 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
5. Remove the turkey from the oven and spoon all the stuffing out into an ovenproof serving dish. Loosely cover the turkey with a tent of aluminum foil and let stand 30 minutes before carving.
Each (4-ounce) serving without skin: 178 calories; 33 grams protein; 0 carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 112 mg. cholesterol; 185 mg. sodium.
Jerk spice rub: For the rub, substitute 1 tablespoon dried thyme and one-half teaspoon ground allspice for the chile powder. Use the same aromatics in the roasting pan.
Chipotle spice rub: For the rub, substitute 1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper for the ground chile powder. Use the same aromatics.
Aromatics variation: Prepare the rub as in the master recipe and use the following aromatics in the roasting pan: omit thyme and garlic; add 1 tablespoon lightly crushed juniper berries with 6 peeled, halved shallots.