Per­fect pancetta & roast shal­lot-stuffed turkey

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Per­fect pancetta & roast shal­lot-stuffed turkey

Whole turkeys are hard to cook per­fectly as the legs take longer than the breast, but push­ing pancetta un­der the skin means the white meat stays suc­cu­lent. We’ve stuffed the turkey with shal­lots which works beau­ti­fully, as the shal­lots and thyme flavour the turkey and the turkey juices flavour the shal­lots. You can use red or white onions in­stead of shal­lots, but you need to cut them into wedges.

SERVES 8 PREP 30 mins plus salt­ing COOK 3 hrs 30 mins-4 hrs plus rest­ing MORE EF­FORT

5-5½kg oven-ready turkey, neck and giblets re­moved (save them to make stock, if you like) 1 pack smoked sliced pancetta or streaky ba­con (about 14 rash­ers) 1 tbsp olive oil For the but­ter 1 large gar­lic clove 1 tbsp thyme leaves 1 le­mon, zested 85g but­ter, soft­ened For the shal­lots 400g shal­lots, peeled small hand­ful thyme sprigs hand­ful bay leaves le­mon halves, from the zested le­mon bay leaves and chopped thyme, for scat­ter­ing over (op­tional)

1 Up to two days ahead, sea­son the bird all over with flaky sea salt, in­side and out and un­der the skin. Leave the turkey in the tin, breast­side up, and put in the fridge for up to two days – the longer you salt it, the more suc­cu­lent it will be. Weigh the turkey and cal­cu­late the cook­ing time by al­low­ing 40 mins per kg for the first 4kg, then 45 mins for ev­ery kg of turkey over that weight. As a guide, a turkey this size should take 31/2-4 hrs plus 30-45 mins rest­ing.

2 To make the but­ter, mash the gar­lic with the thyme, le­mon zest and a pinch of salt us­ing a pes­tle and mor­tar, then beat in the but­ter un­til well mixed. Can be pre­pared up to two days ahead and chilled.

3 Gen­tly push your fin­gers un­der the skin of the turkey, start­ing from the neck, un­til you can push your whole hand in down the length of the breast – take care not to tear the skin. Spread the but­ter un­der the skin so that it cov­ers the breasts. Lay the pancetta on your work sur­face in two rec­tan­gles of six over­lap­ping slices and care­fully push each rec­tan­gle of ba­con un­der the skin to cover and pro­tect each breast. This can be done the night be­fore, but take the turkey out the fridge 1 hr be­fore roast­ing so that it comes back to room tem­per­a­ture.

4 On the day, heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the whole shal­lots into a bowl with the thyme, bay and but­ter, sea­son and toss to coat. Lift the turkey into a roast­ing tin, mas­sage the olive oil into the skin and sea­son well if you haven’t al­ready sea­soned ahead. Tip the shal­lots into the roast­ing tin around the turkey and stuff the le­mon halves into the cav­ity. Cover the tin loosely with foil and roast for the cal­cu­lated cook­ing time. For the fi­nal 30 mins, re­move the foil and pour off all of the cook­ing juices (save them for the gravy). Spoon the shal­lots into the cav­ity, in­crease the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and roast for 30 mins more un­til the turkey is golden and the thigh juices run clear when pierced with a skewer, or a dig­i­tal cook­ing ther­mome­ter reads over 70C. Leave the turkey to rest on a warm plat­ter cov­ered with foil – it will stay warm for about 1 hr. If you want to make turkey gravy, pour the fat off the juices and add the gravy (see p42 for the recipe) to the roast­ing tin and bring to the boil, then pour into a gravy jug. To serve, bring the whole turkey to the ta­ble, along with the herbs, if us­ing. Carve onto a hot plat­ter with a lit­tle of the hot gravy poured over. Any left­over meat can be frozen in the gravy, or use up in our turkey banh mi on page 91, or turkey & ham pie on p112.

GOOD TO KNOW gluten free

PER SERV­ING 401 kcals • fat 23g • sat­u­rates 9g • carbs 1g • sug­ars 1g • fi­bre 0.7g • pro­tein 47g • salt 1.1g

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