From the kitchen of Renee Wilson
Position oven rack on lowest possible setting.
Preheat to 325.
Remove & discard turkey neck & giblets.
Rinse a 18 lb turkey inside & out with cold water.
Pat the turkey skin dry.
Loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing.
Using a wooden or metal skewer, pin the neck skin to the back.
Loosely fill the large body cavity with stuffing.
Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover & refrigerate to bake later.
Place the drumsticks in the hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.
Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan.
Rub all over with: 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
Season with salt & pepper.
Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil.
Pour 2 c of turkey stock/ broth into bottom of pan.
Roast the turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with the juices from the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area).
Continue to roast & baste until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180 F & the stuffing is at least 160F, about 4 hours 15 minutes.
Whenever the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them, about 1 1/2 c at a time.
Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the breast skin to brown.
Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter & let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Drizzle 1/2 c turkey stock/ broth over stuffing in the casserole.
Cover & bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
To make Best Ever Gravy, keep drippings.
Best Ever Gravy
Pour the drippings from the turkey roasting pan into a heat proof glass bowl or large measuring cup.
Let stand for 5 minutes.
Skim off & reserve the fat that has risen to the top.
Measure 3/4 c fat, adding melted butter if needed.
Add enough turkey stock/ broth to the skimmed drippings to make 8 c total.
Place the roasting pan on 2 stove burners over low heat & add the turkey fat.
3/4 c flour scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in: 8 c turkey stock
Whisk in: 1/3 c bourbon, port or dry sherry (optional)
Cook, whisking often, until the gravy is smooth & thickened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a warmed gravy boat.
Makes 7 cups.