Christmas Turkey Recipe
- 5-6kg oven-ready turkey with the neck, chopped, and giblets included
- 150g butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
- large handful of mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme or bay, leaves picked and chopped, stalks reserved, plus extra thyme and herbs to serve (optional)
- 2 lemons, both halved, 1 juiced
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
Up to 48 hrs and at least 12 hrs before cooking, loosen the skin over the turkey breast so you can get your hands underneath it. Season the bird all over, including under the skin, with 2 tbsp sea salt. Put the turkey in a large roasting tin, breast-side up. Leave uncovered in the fridge until ready to cook.
Remove the turkey from the fridge at least 1 hr before cooking. Heat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 9. Melt the butter in a pan set over a low heat, then add the garlic, chopped herbs and lemon juice. Sizzle for 1 min, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little. Remove the turkey from the tin and scatter in the onions, carrots, turkey neck and giblets. Put a roasting rack, trivet or ovenproof cooling rack in or over the tray and sit the turkey on top. Stuff the squeezed and whole lemons in the turkey cavity with the herb stalks and extra thyme. Lift the skin and spoon about 4 tbsp of the garlicky herb butter over the meat underneath, then massage the skin to spread it out. Brush most of the remaining butter all over the bird, reserving about 2 tbsp. For a neat finish, tie the wings and legs together.
Put the turkey in the oven and reduce the heat to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roast for 1 hr, then remove from the oven and brush with more of the butter. Turn the tin around and return to the oven for another 30 mins. Brush again with the butter and roast for another 30 mins. After the turkey has had 2 hrs in total, check its temperature with a probe thermometer. It’s cooked perfectly when the thickest part of the breast reads about 65C and the thickest part of the thigh reads 75C. If the temperature is lower, return the turkey to the oven for periods of 15 mins until the temperature is reached. Cool for 10 mins on the rack, then transfer to a board and leave upside down – the turkey should rest for at least another 20 mins and will stay hot for at least 40 mins more.