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.
FOR THE TURKEY
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
FOR THE GRAVY
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.
TO MAKE THE GRAVY
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.