The original and best - everything you need to know for the perfect Turkey and cranberry sauce


  • 4.5-5 kg turkey thoroughly defrosted (if frozen)
  • 100 g butter softened
  • 3 tblsp chopped parsley
  • 0.5 tblsp chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion (cut in half)
  • 1 lemon (cut in half)
  • extra herbs to place in the turkey cavity for flavour


  1. Wipe out the cavity of the turkey several times with damp kitchen paper.
  2. Wipe the surface of the turkey with damp kitchen paper and then dry thoroughly.
  3. Starting at the neck cavity push your fingers gently under the skin and separate the skin from the breast meat without tearing it.
  4. Beat the herbs into the softened butter and push this mixture under the skin and cover the breast meat with it.
  5. Pull the skin back into place and tuck the wings under the bird. Tie in place. Season well.
  6. Place the onion, lemon and herbs into the body cavity of the turkey and tie the legs together.
  7. Place the turkey into a large turkey bag and add a little stock before securing it closed. This helps to keep a defrosted turkey in particular moist.
  8. Lift into a large roasting dish.
  9. Pierce a few small holes in the bag and then put turkey into a pre- heated oven: Fan 170°C (conventional 180°C/Gas 5).
  10. The cooking time is approx 3-3½ hours but be careful as the cooking bag tends to cook things faster.
  11. Check the bird after 2½ hours. If you have a thermometer place it in the thickest part of the leg and when cooked it will read 90°C. Stick a skewer into the leg and the juices should run clear.
  12. You may slit the bag and leave the bird uncovered for the last half-hour to brown it more if desired.
  13. Drain all the juices from the tray and leave the bird to rest lightly covered with tinfoil.
  14. Separate the fat from the stock (pour a little iced water into the stock and the fat will rise to the surface). Boil the stock for 5 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavour.
  15. Take 1 tbsp of the fat and melt in a saucepan, add 1 tbsp flour. Cook over a low heat for 2 minutes until it becomes sandy in colour, and then gradually add the turkey juices. Whisk in some cranberry sauce and continue to whisk until boiling point is reached.
  16. Simmer very gently for 5 minutes to develop the flavour. Serve with the turkey.