- 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, giblets and neck removed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 to 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.), plus additional sprigs for stuffing and garnish
- 1 lemon, zested and halved
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
Preheat oven to 450° F. Place a rack in a large, heavy roasting pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over the outside and inside of turkey. Place turkey breast-side up on the rack.
In a bowl, cream together butter, chopped herbs and lemon zest until well blended. Carefully loosen skin from the turkey, and rub 3/4 of the herb butter under skin, next to the flesh. Rub remaining herb butter over the top of turkey. Stuff cavity with a few herb sprigs, lemon and onion halves. Tuck wing tips under bird (to prevent burning). Pour 3 cups water into the roasting pan.
Roast turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Baste turkey with pan juices every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone reaches 160° F, 3 1/2 to 4 hours total. If the skin becomes too dark while roasting, tent turkey with foil.
To finish cooking to the final 165° F, remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. Before serving, garnish with fresh herb sprigs, if desired.