The full monty ... prepping, stuffing, cooking and scoffing. Oh, that last bit is up to you.
3.5-4 kg (7½ lb) turkey Salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 30g (2 Tbsp) butter, softened Light stock or water Gravy 2 Tbsp standard flour 450ml (about 16 fl oz) light stock or water Salt Extras (optional) 12 chipolatas, twisted in two 12 rashers bacon, rind removed Garnish Plenty of fresh herbs or watercress Herbed Veal Stuffing 55g (2 oz) butter 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped 170g (6 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs 5 Tbsp milk 225g (8 oz) minced veal 170g (6 oz) minced pork 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley 1 Tbsp finely chopped lemon thyme 1 Tbsp finely chopped marjoram (if lemon thyme and marjoram are not available, substitute mixed dried herbs) 1½ tsp salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1 large (size 7) free-range egg Spicy Fruit Stuffing 150g (5 oz) dried apricots 75g (2-3 oz) soft, pitted prunes 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped 3 Tbsp butter ¼ cup pine nuts 1 tsp ground cinnamon Grating of nutmeg Freshly ground black pepper to taste Salt Zest of 1 orange (squeeze the juice and reserve for the gravy or ‘jus’) 1 tart apple (something like a Granny Smith), peeled and diced
Before you begin, wash the bird under running water, inside and out, dislodging any bloody bits from the cavity. Shake out as much moisture as possible. Wipe thoroughly dry with paper towels. When ready to stuff, season both cavities lightly with salt and pepper. Stuff with the cooled stuffings and truss and roast as described below. BEFORE STARTING READ 10 TOP TIPS FOR ROASTING TURKEY
This keeps the turkey in good shape and stops the legs from splaying open. Use fine, uncoated string and a long trussing needle. Sit the bird breast-side up and twist the wings at the first joint, tucking under the body and over the neck flap. This improves the appearance, helps keep the neck skin in place and prevents charred wing tips. However, it is optional.
Put the needle through one end of the wing, leaving an untied length of string dangling. Pierce right through the bird and come out in the corresponding position on the other wing. Making a long stitch, pull the needle through the other end of the wing, through the bird and out the corresponding position on the other wing.
Tie the 2 loose ends together in a tight bow, then truss in the same manner at the legs (the meaty part under the drumsticks) and tie this is a bow too. Bring the drumsticks together over the seam of the cavity and parson’s nose and put a stitch through the drumstick tips and parson’s nose to keep this part secure. Tie in a bow. The stuffing swells a little during cooking, so the bows allow for this expansion without the flesh being torn. They are also very quick to undo and pull out in one piece after cooking.
Cooking the turkey
Place the turkey in a large roasting tin and smear the entire surface with the softened butter. Pour in 1 cup of water or stock (top up from time to time if it evaporates and the sediment starts to catch). Have the oven preheated to 200°C (400°F), ensuring the rack is at the right height to fit the turkey in.
Cook for approximately 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes. The breast skin will darken more quickly than the rest of the turkey so it’s a good idea to cut out small shapes of tinfoil to place on the breast and other areas, such as the highest part of the leg, which will catch the heat very quickly. The tinfoil reflects the heat and prevents charring.
To test if ready, insert a skewer though the thickest, meatiest part of the leg – any juices should be very clear and not at all tinged with pink. It is important with poultry that the heat is sufficient to penetrate right through to the centre of the bird to kill any bacteria. Pink juices indicate that the thickest parts are not quite cooked.
Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, dish onto a heated plate and keep in a warming drawer while you organise and serve the remaining dishes.
If making stuffing balls, heat a small amount of the oil in a shallow, ovenproof dish. Add the balls and cook for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until crisp. Remove from the dish with a slotted spoon and drain briefly before serving.
If you want to serve a traditional English accompaniment of chipolatas and bacon (which add flavour to the gravy, interest to the meal and make the turkey meat go further) here’s how.
Fifteen minutes before the turkey is cooked, add 12 chipolatas, twisted in two, and 12 rashers of bacon, separated, to the roasting tin. These cook quickly but will need turning with tongs once or twice. When they are cooked, place chipolatas and bacon on a plate lined with paper towels and put in the warming drawer.
Tilt the roasting tin and leave for a few minutes until the sediment sinks to the bottom. Scoop off the fat with a spoon, leaving only fat-coated sediment, stir in the flour and place the tin over a medium heat.
Stir and scrape around with a metal spoon until well browned. Pour on the stock or vegetable water. Continue stirring over a medim#high heat, adding a good teaspoon of salt, until the mixture boils. If it is too thin, reduce it more, and add a little more salt if the flavour is bland. READ GRAVY TIPS AND CLASSIC GRAVY
Herbed Veal Stuffing
1 Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the onion and a tablespoon of water. Cover pan with lid and place pan on a lower heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and allow to cool.
2 Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and mix in the milk with a fork. Leave to soften for about 15 minutes.
3 When the onion is cool, add the breadcrumbs along with the rest of the ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon.
4 The stuffing may be used immediately (presuming it is cool) or prepared up to a day in advance (store refrigerated). Stuff the main cavity, then shape the remaining stuffing into small balls and cook as described.
Spicy Fruit Stuffing
1 Soak the apricots and prunes in 1½ cups hot water for 30 minutes.
2 Put the onion in a frying pan (skillet) with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook gently until soft and pale gold in colour. Add the pine nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook for a further 2 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, drain the apricots and prunes and chop finely. Add to the pan along with the orange zest and diced apple. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat and cool.