I'm always on the quest for the perfect bird. Consequently, I've roasted turkeys in more ways than you can imagine. But in recent years, I've settled on a method that is easier than brining (which imparts great flavor but takes up so much room) and produces fantastic results. Though it seems like an excessive amount of salt, the meat becomes perfectly seasoned within, and any excess is pushed back to the surface and wiped away before roasting.
To prepare the turkey:
Rinse turkey and remove giblet bag (usually in the neck cavity) and neck (usually in the main cavity). Pat dry. Mix salt with herbs and zest and rub liberally on breast, then flip turkey and rub salt over thighs and back. Save some to sprinkle inside the turkey too.
Place turkey in a large turkey-sized roasting bag and tie shut. Must be done at least 24 hours in advance, and up to 3 days in advance. Every 12 hours or so massage salt into skin.
When you remove turkey from bag, the salt and seasonings should be absorbed into the flesh. If you have time, let turkey air dry, uncovered, in your fridge for 8 hours, then let sit at room temp for at least an hour before roasting. Tuck the wing tips behind the neck cavity. Secure the skin from the neck flap to the back of the turkey with toothpicks.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Pat turkey dry, rub entire surface of the turkey with softened butter, and place breast down on a rack in a large roasting pan and place on the lower oven rack. Baste with drippings often. Turkey should roast for 4-5 hours. After 3 hours, turn turkey breast side up and insert a thermometer in the crease between the breast and thigh, making sure not to touch any bones. Continue to baste with the drippings. When the turkey registers 170 degrees in each thigh crease, remove from oven, remove turkey to a carving board, and cover with foil and allow to rest for up to 30 minutes. Make gravy. Carve and serve immediately.
While turkey is roasting, make turkey broth. Brown turkey neck in some butter in a large saucepan. Add one chopped onion, one chopped stalk of celery, 1 chopped carrot, 3 peppercorns and 6 cups of low-sodium chicken broth. Cover partially, and simmer for at least one hour. Strain and set aside.
Avoid kosher turkeys when dry brining, because they are already salted during processing. It's best to bake the stuffing alongside the bird, so that it doesn't become overly salty.
To prepare the gravy:
(Prep time: 5 minutes; Cook time: 15 minutes)
Pour off all the turkey drippings into a fat separator if you have one, or a large glass measuring cup if you don't. Place roasting pan over two burners on the stove. There should still be some brown bits clinging to the pan.
Turn heat to medium, then pour in wine, scraping up all those brown bits. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of fat from the drippings and return drippings to the pan.
Add flour/stock mixture and stir constantly until gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Add more turkey stock to thin gravy as necessary, turn burners to low, and continue to stir occasionally until you are ready to pour into a serving vessel.
Taste for seasonings. You probably won't need to add salt, but a good pinch of pepper will be necessary.