This simple roast turkey can be made on Christmas day with minimum fuss! I usually stuff it with a bacon, mushroom and herb stuffing (which is also on this site). Keep the the giblets and neck to make turkey stock which will become the base for your gravy.
- 1 5.5kg (12 lb) free-range turkey
- 1 120g butter, softened
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 celery stalk, sliced
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- 1 60ml red or white wine
- salt and pepper to season
Preheat oven to 220 C / Gas 7. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and place in a separate pot along with 200ml water, celery stalk, carrot and herbs. Bring to a boil and simmer to make turkey stock.
Place the turkey in a roasting tin and starting at the neck of the bird, slide your hand between the skin and the breast meat to loosen it. Take some of the softened butter and rub it onto the breast meat (under the skin). Rub some more of the butter over the top of the skin. Season well with coarse sea salt. Place the 2 lemon halves in the cavity of the turkey - these will help to keep it moist.
Roast for 30 minutes at 220 C / Gas 7 until golden brown all over, then remove and brush with softened butter. At this stage, reduce the oven temperature to 180 C / Gas 4, stuff the cavity with the stuffing of your choice, then cover the breast with tin foil to prevent further browning. Continue to baste every 30 to 40 minutes with softened butter or spoon over the turkey juices from the roasting tin, until the turkey is cooked and the juice from the thickest part of the leg run clear (about 3 1/2 more hours). Transfer to a serving platter but cover with foil to keep warm.
To make the gravy: First make a quick stock by placing the neck and giblets from the turkey in a pot; add celery, carrots and herbs; cover with water and boil for 15 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Pour this through a sieve, pressing through the cooked vegetables - you can discard the giblets and neck.
Pour the sieved liquid into the roasting tin and stir to scrape up the delicious brown bits from the roasting tin. Add a splash of red or white wine for extra flavour. Pass through a sieve again and reheat before serving.
Turkey roasting times:
It's usually 20 minutes per pound but to tell if it's cooked, pierce the thickest part of the leg with a skewer to make sure the juices are clear. If they are pink, continue to cook, checking and basting the turkey every 20 minutes or so.