Turkey & Trimmings


A great tip for testing if your turkey is cooked is to pierce the thickest part with a long clean skewer or knitting needle. If the juices run clear, it is ready, if it’s a little pink then return to the oven and cook a little longer. I prefer to use a free range or organic bird for this special occasion. If you want to carve it at the table, fill the neck cavity with a bunch of fresh herbs and arrange the roast potatoes and Parmesan crusted parsnips around it, draping them with redcurrant sprigs for that festive touch!


  • For the dry brine:
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns, ground
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Zest from 2 oranges
  • Seasoning the turkey:
  • 12-14lb turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 garlic head, halved horizontal
  • small handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 celery stalks, thickly sliced on the diagonal
  • handful garlic cloves, peeled
  • 600ml turkey or chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • For the orange & thyme butter:
  • 100g softened butter
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Festive Cranberry Stuffing:
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1⁄2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 2 Clementine’s, peel on, quartered
  • 100g dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 1 eating apple, grated (core discarded)
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground allspice
  • 350g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • Large knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For serving:
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50 freshly grated parmesan
  • 1.25kg parsnips
  • Groundnut or other flavourless oil for baking
  • Knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the potatoes:
  • 1.5kg rooster potatoes, peeled and quartered if large
  • 5 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the carrots and peas:
  • 500g carrots, cut into 2cm diagonal slices
  • 100ml water
  • 50g butter
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Up to two days before the big feast, in a bowl combine the ingredients for the dry brine. Massage all over the turkey in a large roasting tin paying extra attention to the interior cavity. Cover and leave to refrigerate until you’re ready to cook. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature brushing away any excess dry rub.
Once ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4. Mix the butter, thyme, sage, parsley and orange zest ingredients in a medium bowl. Season the butter mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Beginning at the neck end of the turkey and using your fingers, carefully make a pocket between the flesh and skin of the turkey breasts. Gently slide all but 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture into the pocket under the skin, and spread the butter to cover the turkey breasts.
Stuff the main turkey cavity with the garlic halves, thyme sprigs, and a quarter of the onions, carrots and celery. Truss the turkey then spread the reserved 1 tablespoon of butter mixture over the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the remaining onions, carrots, and celery in the bottom of a heavy large roasting tin. Place the prepared turkey on top of the vegetables and pour around a third of the stock. Cover the breasts with foil. Roast for 2 hours.
Remove the foil covering the turkey breasts and add another third of the stock to the tin. Continue roasting until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 80 °C, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Remove from the oven and transfer the turkey to a warm platter and cover in a loose tent of foil, then let rest 30 minutes.
While the turkey is roasting, prepare the stuffing. Tip the cranberries into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and soften the onion. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool. Add the almonds to the same pan and toast until golden brown. Leave to cool, then roughly chop.
With their peel on, whizz the Clementine quarters in a food processor until puréed. Drain the cranberries. Add the nuts, Clementine purée, cranberries and the remaining ingredients, except the butter, to the onion, with plenty of seasoning. Stir everything together, then tip into a casserole dish.
Dot with butter, cover with foil and roast in the oven with the turkey for 30 minutes. Uncover, give everything a good stir and then roast for a further 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden, tossing again to ensure it cooks evenly. If necessary, this can be kept warm in a low oven covered with foil until needed.
When the turkey is cooked, place the tin with the vegetables and cooking juices directly on the hob and add the remaining stock. Bring to the boil, scraping the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon to remove any sediment. Season to taste and then strain the cooking juices into a small pan, discarding the vegetables. Set aside until needed.
Begin by combining the flour, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Peel the parsnips using a potato peeler, then halve and quarter them lengthwise and cut each length in half across, so that you end up with smallish chunks.
Meanwhile, have a large kitchen tray ready. Then, as soon as they are ready, drain the parsnips in a colander and, whilst they are still steaming as the mixture will stick, drop a few at a time using the tongs, into the flour and Parmesan mixture, ensuring an even coating.
As they are coated, transfer the parsnips to the tray. To bake them, preheat the oven to 200 ºC/400 ºF/Gas Mark 6. Place a large solid roasting tin in the oven to preheat and in it put enough oil just to cover the base and a knob of butter for flavour. Then, when the oven is ready, remove the tin and place it over direct heat (turned fairly low) and, again using tongs, place the parsnips quickly side by side in the tin.
Tilt it and baste all the parsnips with hot oil mixture, place the tin in the oven and bake them for 20 minutes, then turn them over, drain off any surplus fat (a bulb baster is good for this) and continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Serve hot.
TOP TIP: When all parsnips are coated in the mixture they can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later use. Also try swapping the parsnips for potatoes, just boil for an extra ten mins.
Remove from the oven onto a warm plate to rest, covering with foil to keep warm.
Whilst the turkey and spuds cook, add the carrots, 25g butter, 100ml water and sugar to a heavy based pan along with seasoning.
Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the carrots are tender. They should be coated in a lovely buttery sauce. Add the peas and parsley, toss together until the peas are warm, then season.
To serve, carve the turkey into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the stuffing. Skim any excess fat from the gravy and return to a simmer to warm through, then pour into a warmed gravy jug and hand around separately.