1 Turkey (5 / 6 kilos serves 6 with leftovers)
½ pack of butter; 6 rashers of plain streaky bacon; 1 large onion quartered; 1 large orange quartered; 1 large lemon quartered; fresh thyme sprigs; fresh rosemary sprigs; sea salt and black pepper
Remove giblets and reserve for making stock, Wash out inside of bird thoroughly and leave to dry, Place bird in a large roasting, tin preferably with a rack in the bottom, Lift the skin flap at the neck end, not the cavity, place in some stuffing and secure, Open up the cavity end and place in the onion, lemon and orange, Break off some of the thyme and rosemary twigs and place inside, Season with the salt and pepper.
Leave the legs un-tied as this allows heat to flow in and around the bird.
Take ½ the butter and force under the skin from the cavity end and spread over the breast, easing the skin back into place. Melt the remaining butter with a little olive oil, chop and add some of the thyme and rosemary leaves to the butter and brush all over the outside of the bird.
Place the bacon rashers in a criss-cross over the outside of the breast. Season with salt and pepper, adding any remaining chopped thyme and rosemary
Cover the entire bird loosely with foil and place into the oven set at 160 C for about 3 ?hours, regularly basting (important) with the cooking juices during cooking. A long slow cooking method with regular basting will keep the bird moist and full of flavour.
At 2 hours test the meat with a skewer into the deep parts of the thigh and breast to check the juices run clear, continue cooking for a further 1 hour with the temp increased to 170 C. Test the meat again and, if running clear, remove the foil and bacon, baste with the juices of the pan and return to brown the breast for about 15 / 20 minutes.
When done, remove the bird from the oven, give a final basting with the pan juices and set aside on a warm serving plate, cover with the bacon and the foil (adding a little extra foil to retain heat) until ready to carve. The turkey will keep warm whilst you turn up the heat to finish off the potatoes and parsnips. For all the traditional trimmings, serve with little sausages wrapped in bacon, festive stuffing (see below) and your choice of home made bread sauce or cranberry sauce, available in larger supermarkets.
When the rest of the meal is ready, carve and enjoy.
Perfect Roast Potatoes
Serves 4 / 6, preparation time 20 minutes, cooking time 1 hour
8 / 10 large potatoes peeled and left whole; goose / duck fat or olive oil; sea salt & ground black pepper
Place the potatoes ‘whole’ in a large pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer rapidly until the edges of the potato start to loosen and break away (approx 10 / 15 minutes) but are not overcooked. Keep an eye on the pan!
Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and place in a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for a few minutes.
When cooled, cut the potatoes into half or more (serving size) and place back in the bowl, turn the potatoes with the spoon until the edges break off, add the fat or oil and turn the potatoes again adding more fat or oil if required. Season and turn again.
Transfer to a heated roasting tin, flat or cut surface side down and place in the top of the oven for approx 45 / 50 minutes, do not turn the potatoes.
When you take out the meat turn the oven to 200 C and finish off the potatoes for approx 15 / 20 minutes.
Place the potatoes into a heated serving dish and keep warm until required. For an added touch, sprinkle with fresh thyme or rosemary when serving.
Brussel Sprouts . . .our way
Brussel sprouts are now widely available in most supermarkets and some greengrocers, but don’t leave it too late to buy them as they tend to sell out fast.
Approx 6 brussels per person or as required. Optional extras: bacon or pancetta; onion; chestnuts; (roasted and peeled); sea salt; black pepper
Peel the outer leaves from the Brussels (do not put a cross cut in the base, please!). Chop the bacon, onion and chestnuts (if using).
Heat a large pan of lightly salted water to boiling point, place the brussels in the pan (do not cover) and blanch for a few min’s to set the colour (see the bulbs turn green) remove with a slotted spoon and place into cold water, this will set the colour and stop the brussels turning a pale shade of green when cooked, set aside until required for cooking. Reserve the water to finish off cooking.
When ready to finish off, place the brussels back in a pan of boiling hot water (reserved water if kept) and blanch for 10 / 15 minutes, the brussels should be soft but with an ‘al dente’ bite to them, add a little salt to the water if required.
Remove from the pan, place in a heated serving dish and keep warm until required.
Optional extras. In an open frying pan fry off some chopped onion, bacon and chestnuts in a little oil, adding a large knob of butter when done, add the Brussels and toss through to coat each one. Place in a heated serving dish and keep warm until required.
Cheats Luxury Festive Stuffing
This time saving recipe offers the best of both worlds – the flavour and consistency of home made stuffing with the convenience of the packet variety. It can be made one or two days in advance and kept in the fridge.
1 x large pack of basic stuffing mix, eg Paxo Sage & Onion; 1 x small onion finely chopped; 4 x rashers streaky bacon chopped; 12 – 15 fresh chestnuts; juice and zest of a lemon chopped; fresh parsley; large tablespoon of cranberry sauce (optional); chopped sage and thyme; olive oil; salt & pepper
Pierce chestnuts a couple of times and roast in a moderately hot oven on a baking tray for 15 – 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Peel while as hot as possible to handle and roughly chop.
Fry onion in a little butter and olive oil mixed until translucent and then add the chopped bacon. Cook for further 5 minutes until the bacon is cooked.
Make up the stuffing mix as usual to a medium consistency. Add the onion, bacon, chestnuts, squeezed lemon juice, zest and chopped parsley and bind together with the stuffing mix adding some olive oil, as required.
Add the chopped herbs and, according to taste, the cranberry sauce for a fruity zing and truly flavoursome stuffing. Season well with salt and pepper.
Mixture can be used to stuff the turkey, neck end only. Alternatively, it can be cooked in greased baking dish for 45 minutes or rolled into balls, brushed with melted butter and cooked on a baking tray for 30 minutes.
Turkey Gravy Tips
Everyone loves gravy. To ensure you have plenty, follow these handy hints:
Make a pint of fresh chicken stock in advance. Alternatively, a chicken or vegetable stock cube can be used. Or, if liked, boil up the turkey giblets the day before to create a stronger stock.
Reserve any excess meat juices from the Turkey after basting during cooking time. Remove fat.
Make up a roux by heating some butter and flour in a saucepan and gradually add chicken or vegetable stock and mix into a smooth paste consistency. This is a great tip to thicken and make your gravy go further.
Once the turkey is out of the oven, drain and add to rest of the reserved meat juices. Remove as much fat as possible.
Deglaze the roasting pan with either chicken, vegetable or giblet stock or, if liked, red wine for a richer taste. Bring to the boil for a couple of minutes.
Transfer deglazed juices to a saucepan containing most of the roux paste. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Add the reserved meat juices (with the fat removed) according to quantity and strength required.
Add giblet, chicken or vegetable stock until gravy reaches the right consistency and amount. (Leaving a little for later, if possible).
Add a large knob of butter, stir well, bring to boiling point and pour into gravy boat or onto plated food.
Our tip: If you run out of gravy for seconds, more can be made in a couple of minutes. Just add the rest of the roux to the gravy saucepan and gradually stir in remainder of stock plus any remaining meat juices….not quite as rich but will certainly do the job.