By Neven Maguire
Serves 10-12 people
- 6kg (12lb) oven-ready turkey, at room temperature (preferably free-range)
- 1 orange
- 4 rindless streaky bacon rashers
- 8 ready-to-eat pitted prunes
- 450g (1oz) cocktail sausages
- 175g (6oz) butter, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 3 tbsp Madeira
- 600ml (1 pint) turkey or chicken stock (see tip below)
For the stuffing:
- 75g (3oz) butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 175g (6oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
- 200g (7oz) canned or vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 50g (2oz) dried cranberries, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- small bunch fresh herbs, to garnish (to include parsley, sage and bay leaves)
Once you have invested in a large piece of muslin, which is readily available from good kitchen shops and on line, often referred to as ‘butter or cook’s muslin’, the easiest way to roast a turkey is, fortunately, also the best. Forget spinning it during cooking, or brining it, or embalming it in foil – this is absolutely foolproof.. If you want to be sure that your turkey is cooked invest in a meat thermometer and push it into the thickest part of one of the thighs. This will then clearly show you when the turkey is cooked, leaving no doubt in your mind.
Preheat the oven to 190C (375F), Gas mark 5.
To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a frying pan and add the onion, herbs, cranberries and chestnuts then cook for a few minutes until the onion has softened but not coloured.
Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and tip in the onion mixture, then mix well to combine and season to taste. Divide among two buttered sheets of tinfoil and roll each one into sausage shaped rolls, twisting the ends to fasten; set aside. These can be made 2-3 days in advance and kept in the fridge until needed.
Cut the orange in two and stuff into the cavity of the turkey. Cut bacon in half and use to tightly wrap prunes. Arrange on a plate with the cocktail sausages, cover with cling film and chill until needed.
Turn the turkey breast-side up and tie the top of the drumsticks with string. Melt the butter, then soak the muslin in the butter, then season the turkey and place it over the turkey, ensuring it is all covered.
Weigh the turkey to calculate the required cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes extra – this size turkey should take about 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Put the turkey in a large roasting tin. Baste every 45 minutes to 1 hour; it is important to do this quickly so as to not let the turkey or oven cool down, as this could alter the cooking time.
Add the bacon wrapped prunes, cocktail sausages and stuffing rolls to the turkey for the last 30 minutes and allow to finish cooking. If the stuffing rolls have been made in advance and are well chilled down then give them an extra 15 minutes or so until they are fully heated through. T
o be sure its cooked, insert a fine skewer into the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run clear, but if they are still pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again every 15 minutes until you are happy that the turkey is cooked right the way through.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter, then carefully remove the muslin and surround with the bacon wrapped prunes and cocktail sausages.
Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes is fine, then carefully remove the muslin.
Place the roasting tin directly on the hob over a gentle heat and skim any excess fat from the cooking juices. Stir the flour into the tin’s residue. Cook on the hob for a minute or two, stirring until golden.
Pour in the Madeira, stirring to combine, then gradually add the stock, stirring until smooth after each addition. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for about 10 minutes until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
Garnish the turkey with the bunch of herbs in the neck cavity and bring to the table. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the gravy, the roast potatoes, vegetables and all of the trimmings.