“For me, prepping the turkey a day in advance and taking the time to get it to the stage where it’s ready to cook is a joy. I take real pleasure in giving this illustrious bird the focus it deserves, plus saving myself a bit of stress on the big day. ”
- 1 x 7 kg higher-welfare turkey , (I use a Paul Kelly bird)
- 1 clementine
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 bunch of fresh rosemary (30g)
- 1 bunch of fresh sage (30g)
- 12 fresh bay leaves
- 250 g stuffing
- 250 g unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 1 whole nutmeg , for grating
- GRAVY TRIVET
- turkey giblets , (optional)
- 2 onions
- 2 carrots
- 2 sticks of celery
- ½ a bulb of garlic
- Check the main turkey cavity for the bag of giblets, and if they’re in there, remove and tip them into your roasting tray, discarding the bag. The added flavour they’ll give your gravy will be incredible – trust me.
- Peel the onions, wash the carrots and roughly chop with the celery, then add to the tray with the unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Halve the clementine and chilli and place in the turkey cavity with most of the herbs – not filling it too full allows hot air to circulate, cooking the bird from the inside out and from the outside in.
- Place the stuffing in the neck cavity (click here for my meat stuffing recipe, or you could use any veggie stuffing), then pull the skin back over it and tuck it under the bird. You’ll get a good contrast between the soft, juicy stuffing here inside the turkey, and the crispier stuff you can bake in a dish, as well.
- Scrunch and warm the butter in your hands so it’s soft enough to spread all over the bird, getting into all the nooks and crannies. The butter layer serves two purposes – natural basting, plus keeping the seasoning away from the meat until it hits the oven, so the bird stays nice and juicy. The butter will melt off as it cooks, adding to the flavour of the gravy, and you’ll also be able to skim off that tasty fat and save it in a jar in the fridge for delicious cooking another day.
- Generously sprinkle the turkey from all sides with sea salt and black pepper, pick over the remaining herb leaves and pat them on to the butter, then finely grate over a nice coating of nutmeg.
- Cover the turkey snugly with tin foil and place it on top of the trivet in the tray. You can now either leave it for 1 hour until the bird comes up to room temperature, ready to cook, or pop it into the fridge or another cold place until you need it.
- Have a clear down, and your prep is done. Click here for how to cook your bird…
The first step is key – you must let your bird come up to room temperature after being in the fridge. It’ll give you more reliable cooking times, as well as juicier, more tender meat, as the bird isn’t shocked when it hits the heat of the oven.
Turbo-charge your turkey with deep umami flavours by grating over a little dried porcini before cooking. I also like to throw a handful into the roasting tray for a meatier gravy.
Source: Jamie Oliver