1. The day before roasting the turkey, mix the salt, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, pepper, and bay leaves in a small bowl. Reserve the turkey neck and giblets; pull out the yellow pads of fat near the tail and reserve them, too. Rinse the turkey inside and out, but do not pat dry. Place the turkey in a turkey-sized oven roasting bag. Sprinkle the dry brine inside and out of the bird, coating it evenly. Close the bag and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
2. Position a rack in the lowest position of the oven and preheat to 325° F. Remove the turkey from the bag and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat the turkey skin dry. Turn the turkey on its breast. Loosely fill the neck cavity with stuffing (or the chopped vegetable mixture). Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the turkey’s neck skin to the back. Fold the turkey’s wings akimbo behind the back or tie to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the large body cavity with stuffing (or vegetables). Place any remaining stuffing in a lightly buttered casserole, cover and refrigerate to bake as a side dish. Place the drumsticks in the hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.
2. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Rub all over with the softened butter. Season with the salt and pepper. Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil. Pour 2 cups of turkey stock into the bottom of the pan.
3. Roast the turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area), until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180° F degrees and the stuffing is at least 160° F, about 4 hours. (See Estimated Roasting Times, below.) Whenever the drippings evaporate, add broth to moisten them (about 1 1/2 cups at a time). Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the skin to brown.
4. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1/2 cup of turkey broth over the stuffing in the casserole, cover, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a heatproof glass bowl or measuring cup. Let stand 5 minutes; then skim off and reserve the clear yellow fat that rises to the top. Measure 9 tablespoons cup fat, adding melted butter, if needed. Add enough turkey broth to the skimmed drippings to make 6 cups total.
6. Place the roasting pan over two stove burners on low heat and add the turkey fat. Whisk in the flour, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the broth mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened and no trace of raw flour flavor remains, about 5 minutes. Strain into a 2-quart measuring cup, then pour into a warmed gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve the gravy alongside.
Homemade Stuffing: use 1 large onion, 1 medium carrot, and 1 medium celery, all coarsely chopped, with 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and 1 tablespoon Homemade Poultry Seasoning, recipe below
Homemade Poultry Seasoning: Mix 1 teaspoon each dried rosemary, dried crumbled sage, dried marjoram, dried thyme, and celery salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 well-crumbled bay leaf. Crush together in a mortar and pestle or in a mini-food processor.