4.5 kg (to 5kg) turkey. calculate the cooking time at 20minutes per 500g of your turkey, plus 20 minutes
100 g butter (softened)
2 shallots (or 1 medium onion), chopped finely
1 lemon, zested then halved
salt and pepper
small bunch of fresh thyme
for the stuffing:
350 g onions (chopped)
200 g butter
500 g potatoes (peeled, chopped into chunks, boiled and mashed)
50 g fresh herbs (a mix of thyme, parsley, marjoram, savoury, chives, lemon balm, chopped)
salt and pepper
The Stuffing: Begin with the stuffing, as it must be cool before going into the bird. In a heavy bottomed pan, gently sweat the onions in the butter until soft, then add the potatoes, herbs and a good bit of salt and pepper, mix thoroughly and leave aside to cool down.
The Turkey: Turn your oven onto 230°C, Gas mark 8 or 450°F. Wash the turkey inside and out, patting it dry with some kitchen roll – this’ll test your balancing skills at the sink!
In a bowl, beat the butter with the shallots, a tablespoon of chopped thyme leaves, a teaspoon of the lemon zest and a little salt and pepper to taste. Tip: As a little alternative (and really yummy) suggestion, you can grind 2tsp coriander seeds, 1tsp allspice, 1tsp fennel, ½tsp mace and mix through this butter mix.
Now, pop the turkey into your (large) roasting tray breast-side up, gently lift the skin of the bird, slide your fingers underneath and with your other (washed and clean!) hand, take some of the butter mix and spread as much as you can between the breast and skin.
Then, carefully spoon the cooled-down stuffing into the cavity of the bird, making sure not to overfill, grab a piece of string, wrap and tie it around the two leg-ends to close the cavity (this is known as trussing the bird!).
Turn the bird over so it is breast side down on the roasting tray, squeeze the halves of lemon into the tray and pop the halves around the bird along with the remaining thyme and cover with foil, making a tight, firm seal around tray
Pop the turkey into the oven, (set you timer!) and cook for 40 minutes. Then, turn the oven down to 190°C, (375°F/Gas mark 5) and cook for 2½hours more.
Now for the tricky part, carefully take the roasting tray out of the oven, pop it on a good solid worktop, remove the foil and put it aside for later. Turn the turkey over, so it’s breast side up, trying not to tear the delicate skin.
Pop it back into the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, basting it 3 or 4 times. When the time is up, grab a knitting needle or skewer and poke it into the thick part of the bird, between the thigh and body. The juices should run clear, with no pink tinge at all. If they don’t, then pop it back into the oven for another 10 minutes and test again.
Once cooked, you can rest the turkey under the foil you’ve held onto for up to 45 minutes or so. Ta dah! Beautiful, moist and delicate turkey…enjoy!
Top Tip: Make extra spiced butter to make a sauce along with the roast turkey cooking juices.