Easy to follow steps for an extraordinary Christmas turkey


  • turkey:
  • 12- 14 lbs organic free-range turkey
  • marinade
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 medium shallots (thickly sliced)
  • 6 large cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 1 tblsp black pepper
  • 3 medium onions (finely diced)
  • 3 medium ribs of celery (finely diced
  • 1 tblsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cup rich turkey stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • maple-pepper butter:
  • 1 lb unsalted butter (softened)
  • 6 tblsp maple syrup
  • 3 tblsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest grated fine
  • 1 tblsp coarse black pepper
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • maple-pepper glaze:
  • 4-tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tblsp lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper


  • Turkey:
  • Combine lemon juice, maple syrup, oil, shallots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, lemon zest and black pepper in a 2-gallon plastic bag.
  • Add turkey; squeeze out as much air as possible and seal bag. Distribute marinade evenly over and inside the turkey.
  • Set turkey breast side down in bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours turning occasionally. Remove turkey from marinade.
  • Wipe off any shallots and garlic that are clinging to it and pat dry. Strain marinade into a bowl and reserve the rest.
  • Set all the herbs, shallots, and garlic aside separately.
  • Preheat oven to 230 C. Position the oven rack near the bottom.
  • Carefully loosen turkey skin over the breast and thighs.
  • Put all but 3 tablespoons of the softened maple pepper butter in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
  • Pipe the butter under the breast and thigh skin, patting gently to spread the butter. You can also use your hands if you do not have a piping bag.
  • Put all of the reserved herbs, shallots and garlic inside the cavity of the bird and tie the legs together for even cooking.
  • Set turkey breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan.
  • Rub the remaining butter over the turkey.
  • Roast for 30 minutes. Cover the bird loosely with foil to keep the skin from burning. Reduce oven temperature 175 C, add the onions and celery to the tray and roast for about 4 hours making sure not open the oven door to regularly as this will let the steam out and dry the bird.
  • In the last 30 minutes of cooking remove foil and brush twice wit the maple pepper glaze.
  • Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part between the breast and thigh read 82 C and when juices run clear.
  • Transfer turkey to a carving board and let rest for ½ hour covered with foil to keep warm.
  • Place the roasting tray over medium heat on the stove, cook vegetables remaining in the pan until golden brown, stirring constantly.
  • For the Gravy:
  • Pour off 3 tablespoons of the fat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.
  • Add the reserved maple pepper glaze and turkey stock. Bring to a boil and scrape off any excess browned bits from the tray. This is where there is a lot of flavour.
  • Simmer for 3 minutes and strain into a small saucepan and reduce this by half. This should take 10 minutes or so.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Oscar's Tip: Maple butter and glaze can be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using.

More by Oscar Lai:

Find recipes by keyword:

christmas family dinners irish mains the afternoon show