BRINED AND BUTTERED ROAST TURKEY WITH CLASSIC GRAVY
Brining is all the rage at the moment, and guarantees juicy, seasoned meat once roasted. You’ll need to start brining 24hr before you want to roast your turkey. If you haven’t got time for this stage, just start from step 3 ( but allow turkey to come up to room temperature before roasting).
Hands-on time 45min, plus brining, coming up to room temperature and resting. Cooking time about
3½hr. Serves 8, with leftovers
• 5.4kg (12lb) free-range turkey
• 2 oranges
• 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
• 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
• 100g (3½oz) butter, softened
• About 600g (1lb 5oz) stuffing as per Jewelled Stuffing Baubles
• 2 large onions, skin on, sliced
For the brine
• 300g (11oz) fine salt
• 175g (6oz) light brown soft sugar
• 2 oranges, roughly chopped
• 2 lemons, roughly chopped
• Handful thyme sprigs
• Handful rosemary sprigs
For the gravy
• 25g (1oz) plain flour
• 100ml (3½fl oz) white wine
• Double cream, optional
1 A day before you want to roast your turkey, prepare the brine mixture. In a large non-reactive container that will hold the turkey and fit into your fridge (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot) dissolve the salt and sugar in 5 litres (about 9 pints) cold water by stirring. Add remaining brine ingredients. Lower in turkey ( be sure to take any giblets out of the cavity first). Make sure turkey is covered with the brine mixture (add more cold water if needed). Cover and chill for up to 24hr.
2 One hour before cooking, remove turkey from brine solution. Carefully rinse under cold running water (see GH Tip) and sit on a board. Pat dry with kitchen paper and use tweezers to pluck out any stray feathers. Allow turkey to come up to room temperature.
3 Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan) mark 5. Finely grate zest of 1 of the oranges into a medium bowl. Roughly slice the zested and unzested orange and set aside. To the zest bowl, add the thyme leaves, chopped rosemary leaves, softened butter and some seasoning. Mix.
4 Lift up turkey neck flap and use your fingers to ease the skin gently away from some of the breast meat. Work ½ butter mixture under the skin, spreading over the meat. Next, put the stuffing inside the neck cavity. Turn the turkey over on to its breast, pull the neck flap down and over the stuffing, and secure with a skewer or cocktail sticks. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allowing 30-35min per kg (2lb 3½oz). Put half the orange slices into the central turkey cavity.
5 Make a trivet in a large sturdy roasting tin with onions and remaining orange slices. Tie turkey legs together and rub over remaining flavoured butter mixture. Loosely cover tin with foil.
6 Roast for calculated time, basting occasionally (add a little water to tin if base is catching), removing foil for last 30min of cooking. To check the turkey is cooked, insert a fork into the thickest part of the breast and check that the juices run golden and clear. If there’s any red tinge to the juice, return the bird to the oven and keep checking every 10-15min. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer – the temperature needs to read at least 72°C when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
7 Transfer turkey to a board (set aside the roasting tin for gravy); cover well with foil and then clean tea towels to help keep the heat in. Leave to rest in a warm place for at least 30min or up to 1¼hr.
8 Make the gravy. If there is excess fat, spoon some off ( leaving other roasting remains in tin). Put tin over medium hob heat and whisk in flour (mashing the orange and onion slices as you go). Cook, whisking, for 1min. Gradually whisk in the wine (scraping up all the sticky bits from the base of the tin) and leave to bubble for a few min. Next whisk in 400ml (14fl oz) water and leave to simmer, whisking occasionally, for a couple of min until thickened. Strain into a warmed gravy jug or clean pan
(to reheat when needed). Check seasoning, adding a dash of cream if the brining has made the gravy too salty.
9 To serve, unwrap turkey and transfer to a warm platter. Remove skewer or cocktail sticks and garnish with rosemary and fried orange slices, if you like. Serve with gravy (reheated if needed).
Per serving For 125g (4oz) meat, 1tbsp stuffing and 50ml (2fl oz) gravy 352cals, 43g protein, 15g fat (5g saturates), 11g carbs (4g total sugars), 1g fibre
(if not brining) Prepare steps 3-5 up to a day ahead (don’t preheat oven). Chill. To serve, allow stuffed turkey to come up to room temperature before roasting.
Make sure to sterilise the sink areas fully after you’ve rinsed the turkey, to prevent the risk of bacterial contamination.