Tag Archives: gravy

Cider Roast Turkey

SERVES 8 with leftovers.  PREPARATION TIME 15 minutes.   

COOK approx 4 hours for a 4.5 – 6 Kg (10-12 lb) bird.

Moderately easy recipe

Choose a free-range bird for the best flavour – they’re more expensive, but well worth it for a special occasion.  Here in the UK I’ve found KellyBronze has a good flavour.


4.5 – 6kg (10-12 lb) turkey, giblets removed and kept

450g / 1lb stuffing

2 leeks, trimmed and halved

2 carrots, halved

50g / 2oz butter, softened

300ml /1/2 pint of dry cider


300ml /1/2 pint dry cider

600ml / 1 pint of chicken or home made turkey giblet stock

2 tbsp quince or redcurrant jelly (cranberry jelly would also work well as an alternative if you can’t find quince or redcurrant)


Heat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas 5 / 170C for a fan oven (approx 365F).

Wash and dry the turkey, removing any feathers.  Pull out the giblets and the neck, then set aside.  Lift up the skin that covers the neck opening, then stuff the stuffing up and under the skin, securing it tightly underneath with a skewer or two cocktail sticks.

Weigh the stuffed turkey (you may to use bathroom scales to do this), then calculate the cooking time, allowing 40 minutes per kg (20 minutes per pound).

Put the leeks and carrots in the bottom of a roasting tin in a single layer – this makes a trivet for the turkey to sit on, keeping it out of the fat that pools in the bottom of the tray and also adding flavour to the gravy.  Take the neck from the giblets you had set aside and add to the tin (again for flavour).

Sit the turkey on top of the layer of carrots and leeks and coat the breast all over with butter.  Pour in the cider, cover with foil, then roast according to your timings.  Keep checking the tin every 20-30 minutes and if the vegetables look like they’re burning, add a splash of water or cider.

At 30 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the foil and season generously with salt and pepper.

To test if the turkey is ready, pierce the thigh through its thickest part – the juices should run clear.  Take the turkey out and leave to rest, covered with a clean tea towel. 

Leaving the bird to rest is essential in order to allow the fibres of the meat to relax again and for the residual moisture to redistribute in the flesh.  You can leave the turkey to rest for up to an hour.


Drain the fat and juices from the tin into a jug, discarding the veg and the neck.

Place the tin over a flame then pour in the cider, scraping up the flavour filled crusty bits with a wooden spoon. 

Reduce the cider by half, then strain into a saucepan (this will save you hob space later).

You should find that by now the juices you poured out of your roasting tin into a jug will have separated out – the fat floating to the top.  Carefully tip off this excess fat, then add the remaining juices to the reduced cider and pour in the stock.  ***Reduce over a high heat for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Stir in the quince jelly, taste and then season if necessary – if you’re using commercially pre-prepared stock be warned that this usually contains a lot of salt so your gravy may only require a little cracked black pepper by way of seasoning. 

Pour the gray into a serving jug or gravy boat, any resting juices that have come out of the turkey should go in now too.

***If you prefer a thicker gravy, mix 1 tsp cornflour with a splash of cold water, then add to the gravy, stirring constantly until smooth and glossy.


This recipe has been slightly adapted from one  that appeared in the December 2007 Christmas edition of BBC Good Food magazine.  All photos from the same article.

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Gravy – two options

There are two methods for making gravy – either will work for roast turkey, so here are both options.

Method 1: De-glazing the pan

At the end of cooking, once the bird is removed, tilt your roasting pan slightly.  You’ll see the fat sitting in a layer above the precious meat juices.  Pour or spoon off most of this fat, leaving about two tablespoons.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape the sides and base of the pan to release as much of the stuck on goodness as you can.  With the pan over a fairly low heat start to briskly whisk in a rounded tablespoon of plain (all purpose) flour.  When you have a smooth paste, start to add hot turkey stock, a little at a time.  You’ll find that once you have added some liquid any stubborn bits will come away from the pan and you have effectively de-glazed it.  You can either continue in the same pan, or transfer you liquid to a small saucepan if you find that easier (I usually do).  Now continue to add hot stock and maybe a glass of wine until you have the consistency that you are happy with.  How thick or thin you like your gravy is entirely up to you.  In general terms, 1 pint of liquid is good for each rounded tablespoon of flour.  Leaving the gravy on a gentle heat will reduce its bulk and make it thicker.  If it’s too thick for your liking add a little more liquid.  I’d advise checking seasoning and adding more only at the end of this process as it’s way too easy to mis-judge the intensity of those cooking juices and end up with salty gravy.  (This can be ‘repaired’ …see my page here).

Method 2: De-glaze and use beurre manie to thicken

As above, at the end of cooking, once the bird is removed, tilt your roasting pan slightly.  You’ll see the fat sitting in a layer above the precious meat juices.  Pour or spoon off most of this fat, leaving about two tablespoons.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape the sides and base of the pan to release as much of the stuck on goodness as you can.  Now start to add you hot stock, scraping any remaining goodness from the sides and base.  Once the sauce is bubbling, add beurre manie to thicken.  (I never bother with gravy browning …. what is that stuff anyway?!)  Again, don’t add seasoning until you have checked what your gravy tastes like.

These two methods produce tasty gravy for all roasts – just use a stock that is appropriate to your joint of meat.

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De-glaze – Cookery terms de-mystified


When you cook something like meat in a pan or roasting tin you may notice little caramelized bits of goodness sticking to the bottom of the tin.  This is like cooking ‘gold-dust’ and in order to make the most of it and incorporate it into a sauce or gravy you should ideally ‘de-glaze’ the pan.  Effectively all you are doing is cleaning those precious bits away from the pan and incorporating them into liquid for a sauce.

To do this, simply remove most of the cooking fat then add a cup or so of liquid (stock, wine, vegetable cooking juices…or a combination of these) to your hot pan.  Let the liquid sizzle as you gently scrape and gather the bits that have stuck to the pan.  You’ll very quickly find that the pan is ‘clean’, in other words you have de-glazed it.

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Cooking dilemmas: Too salty / too sweet

What now?!Getting the right balance of flavours in food can sometimes be tricky.  If you’re reducing any liquid on the hob, bear in mind that flavours will be intensified so be careful about how much salt you add to begin with.  To state the obvious : It’s easier to add more after reduction than it is to take away! 


Be careful particularly when making gravy  The juices left at the bottom of your roasting pan often have intense flavour, including saltiness, so extra seasoning is rarely necessary.  You may be tempted to reach for the wine (for the pan – not you!) in order to balance things out.  Don’t.  Wine tends to further emphasise saltiness. In the case of over-salted gravy, add more stock or water and some parsley to absorb the salt.  If you find your gravy then lacks flavour add one of the following: a little redcurrant jelly, butter, a tablespoon of medium or sweet sherry or even a small piece of stock cube (because commercially made stock cubes are, in themselves, salty)!


All may not be lost and depending on what you’re preparing, you have a few options: 

For soups and stews add a raw potato and continue to cook for about 15 minutes.  As the potato cooks it will absorb some of the salt and you can remove it at the end.  

White bread-crumbs, cream and parsley will all help mask too much salt.

For French dressing or any sauce that you think could take a hint of sweetness, adding a little sugar will balance out the flavours.

Conversely, if you have made a food too sweet and you think it can take it, add a pinch of salt or a dash of vinegar.


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