Butter-crisped Turkey

We are spending Thanksgiving in Iowa City where my Mom, sister and brother-in-law live. My mom is cooking the traditional Thanksgiving fare: oven-roasted turkey, corn bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, green beans, and homemade cranberry sauce.  After a night in the brine bucket, Mom and Dom tucked butter under the turkey's skin for a juicy, crispy-skinned turkey.

1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the lowest position. Loosen the turkey skin, then working from the neck end, slide fingers under skin until you reach the end of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin; rub butter under the skin.

Place the turkey breast side down and fill neck cavity with stuffing, but avoid packing the stuffing too tightly. Close up by folding skin over and fastening with skewers or trussing needles. Turn the turkey over and bend wing tips underneath bird so they stay in place (you may even need to break the bones). Loosely fill the large cavity with stuffing. Then tie the legs securely (overlapping) using cotton kitchen twine, this way the bird retains its shape and moisture during cooking.

Cut the neck into pieces; mix with carrots, onions, celery, and 2 cups water in a large roasting pan. Set roasting rack over vegetables in pan. Lift turkey onto rack; rub with remaining tablespoon butter. Season the turkey generously with salt and pepper. Tent the turkey loosely with foil, and then roast for 1 hour. After the first hour, start basting every 30 minutes with pan liquids. After about 3 hours, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (be sure to avoid bones.) If the thermometer registers 125 degrees, then remove foil and raise oven heat to 400 degrees. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until thigh reaches 180 degrees, 45 to 60 minutes more. Re-tent with foil if bird browns too quickly; add more water if pan becomes dry. Transfer turkey to a serving platter; cover loosely with foil, and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.