Tasty Turkey for the Big Day
Try our recipe below for a beautifully cooked turkey.
It is important to take the turkey out of the fridge to allow it to come to room temperature so that it heats up immediately you put it in the oven.
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C). Begin by stuffing the turkey. Loosen the skin with your hands and pack the stuffing into the neck end, pushing it up between the flesh and the skin towards the breast (though not too tightly because it will expand during the cooking). Press it in to make a nice rounded end, then tuck the neck flap under the bird’s back and secure with a small skewer. Don’t expect to get all the stuffing in this end – put the rest into the body cavity.
- Now arrange two large sheets of foil across your baking tin – one of them width ways, the other length ways. Lay the turkey on its back in the centre, then rub it generously all over with the butter, making sure the thighbones are particularly well covered. Next season the bird all over with salt and pepper, and lay the bacon over the breast with the rashers overlapping each other.
- Now wrap the turkey in the foil to make a parcel. The parcel must be firmly sealed but roomy enough inside to provide an air space around most of the upper part of the turkey. So bring one piece of foil up and fold both ends over to make a pleat along the length of the breastbone – but well above the breast. Then bring the other piece up at both ends, and crimp and fold.
- Place the roasting tin on a low shelf in the oven and cook at the initial high temperature for 40 minutes. After that, lower the heat to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and cook for a further 3 hours for a 12 lb bird (around 5.5 kg), or 3.5 hours for a 14 lb bird (around 6.3 kg).
- Then tear the foil away from the top and sides of the bird and remove the bacon slices to allow the skin to brown and crisp. The bacon rashers can be placed on a heat-proof plate and put back in the oven to finish cooking till all the fat has melted and there are just very crisp bits left. (I like to serve these crunchy bits with the turkey as well as bacon rolls.)
- Turn the heat up to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) and cook the turkey for a further 30 minutes. The turkey will need frequent basting during this time, so the whole operation will probably take nearer 40-45 minutes.
- To test if the bird is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the leg with a thin skewer: the juices running out of it should be golden and clear. And the same applies to any part of the bird tested – there should be no trace of pinkness in the juices. You can also give the leg a little tug, to make sure there is some give in it.
- Then remove it from the roasting tin and transfer it to a warm carving dish. Tip the turkey to let the excess juice run out and leave it in a warm place for 30-60 minutes to ‘relax’ before carving.