For the Turkey and Brine:
2 cups apple cider
1 ½ gallons water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup light brown sugar
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large Braeburn or Northern Spy apple, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
3 large bay leaves
One 12-pound turkey, cleaned
1 stick softened butter
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, such as Bell's
Salt and black pepper
3 large crisp apples, each sliced into 4 with core (apple slabs or steaks)
For the Chestnut Stuffing:
8 cups country white or sourdough bread, cubed and toasted to deep golden
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, such as Bell's (season bread before toasting cubes)
1 pound chestnuts, roasted (store-bought in jar or package is fine)
1 cup loosely packed good-quality pitted prunes (¼ pound)
1 stick butter
2 large crisp apples, such as Braeburn or Northern Spy, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
¼ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel
½ cup Calvados
2 to 3 cups turkey stock
For the turkey and brine, warm liquids to low simmer and dissolve salt and sugar. Add garlic, apple, lemon and bay and cool. Add clean, whole 12-pound turkey to large pot or Dutch oven and cover with brine. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Use poultry sheers or cleaver to remove backbone from bird, then turn breast-side up, break breastbone to flatten bird and tuck wings under breasts. Rub skin, including in seams, with butter seasoned with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Roast on a rack over a lightly buttered pan with sliced apples underneath about 1 ½ hours or just until 160 to 165°F. Remove and let rest 20 to 30 minutes. Carve breast meat into ½- to ¾-inch slices and separate thighs and drumsticks. Place on platter and arrange caramelized apples around the turkey.
For the stuffing, chop or crumble the chestnuts. Cover prunes with hot water and plump, then chop.
Heat 5 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat and add apples, celery and onion. Season with salt and pepper and soften. Add herbs and garlic, stir, then add sausage, raise heat a bit and brown and crumble. Add Calvados and let it absorb. Mix together sausage mixture, chestnuts, prunes and bread, reserving some nuts and fruit for the top. Transfer to casserole dish.
Moisten the mixture to soften with turkey stock, dot with remining butter and top with nuts and fruit. Brown while turkey rests to crisp top.