MOST FAMILIES HAVE Thanksgiving traditions they consider set in stone. My family, with its strong southern roots, wouldn't consider it Thanksgiving without a generous serving of sauerkraut.
Family traditions are what Anthony and Kathyrn Blue say prompted them to write "Thanksgiving Dinner" (Harper and Row; 1990). Here is one of their recipes.
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh or a pinch dried of the following: rosemary, marjoram and thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 12-pound fresh turkey or defrosted turkey
Stuffing of your choice
2 cups dry white wine
Chicken stock or chicken broth for basting
In a food processor, combine well the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper with the softened butter. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Starting around the main body cavity, slip your hand under the turkey skin and break the membranes that hold it to the body. With your fingers, smear the herb butter under the skin.
Stuff the turkey loosely, in the neck and main cavity and close the flaps with skewers. Rub the remainder of the herb butter over the skin of the turkey.
Set the turkey breast-side down on a buttered, Teflon-coated "V"-shaped rack set in a shallow roasting pan. (These racks are available in most major kitchen stores.) Pour the wine in the pan under the turkey.
Roast the turkey, basting occasionally with stock. Do not let the liquid in the pan evaporate. A 12-pound stuffed turkey will take about 4 1/2 hours total to roast.
An hour or so before the turkey is done, slide the roasting pan out of the oven and reverse the turkey. To do this use two people and work quickly. Wearing heat-proof, heavy oven mitts turn the turkey over.
The only way to tell if your turkey is done is to take its temperature by inserting an instant-reading thermometer in the upper thigh area. When the internal temperature is 170 to 175 degrees the turkey is done. Also, the turkey juices should run clear.
Serves 12 with leftovers.