This roast turkey recipe is served with shortcut sides to make your life so much easier. You will need to buy some ready-made cheats, but the payoff is that the whole delicious Christmas dinner is done in less than 2 hours!
For the turkey and stuffing
- 2.5kg/5lb 8oz turkey crown (fully thawed if frozen)
- 6 rashers smoked streaky bacon
- sunflower oil, for greasing
- large knob of butter
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed
- 5 thick slices white bread
- 1 x 120g pack mixed nuts and dried fruit (I use one containing brazil nuts, pecans, almonds, sultanas and dried cranberries)
- 1 small bunch fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 large unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest only
- 450g/1lb pork sausagemeat
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the roast potatoes
- 1.2kg/2lb 12oz potatoes, preferably Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil or melted goose fat
For the pigs in blankets
- 8–12 chipolata sausages, wrapped in bacon
- a few sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
- 2 tbsp runny honey
For the hassle-free Christmas gravy
- 750–900ml/1⅓–1⅔ pint readymade chicken gravy
- 2 rashers smoked streaky or back bacon, roughly chopped
- 4 tbsp ruby port or red wine
- 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
- ½ tsp dried sage (optional)
For the super-easy bread sauce (optional)
- 2 x 40g packets bread sauce mix
- 500ml/18fl oz milk
- 4 tbsp double cream
- 25g/1oz butter
- freshly grated nutmeg, to serve (optional)
For the microwave glazed carrots
- 600g/1lb 5oz ready-prepared carrot sticks
- 2 tbsp orange juice (fresh or from a carton)
- knob of butter
- 2 tbsp chopped frozen parsley or 3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- 2 good pinches caster sugar
For the one-pot sprouts with bacon and chestnuts
- 25g/1oz butter
- 4 rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon, cut into 2cm/¾in pieces
- 300g/10½oz ready-trimmed baby Brussels sprouts, halved
- 200g/7oz cooked and peeled chestnuts, vacuum-packed or frozen and thawed, halved
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
For the turkey and stuffing, put the turkey crown on a lightly oiled baking tray and pat dry with kitchen paper. Season with lots of coarsely ground black pepper. Cover the breast with bacon rashers, then cover the turkey with lightly oiled foil and roast for 1 hour.
While the turkey is roasting, prepare the stuffing. Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Thinly slice the leeks. Add to the pan and cook over a low heat for 3–4 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly.
Tip the leeks into a large, shallow ovenproof dish – a lasagne dish would work well. Tear the bread into small cubes and don’t worry about the crusts, just add those too. Tip the nuts and fruit onto a board and cut any large nuts in half or quarters, then add to the bread and leeks. Add roughly three-quarters of the thyme to the stuffing mixture and sprinkle the lemon zest on top. Add the sausagemeat and season with a little salt and lots of black pepper. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly with your hands, leaving it fairly chunky. Spread loosely over the dish and set aside.
When the turkey has been cooking for 1 hour, take out of the oven and reduce the temperature to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 7. Take the turkey crown carefully off the tray and place directly on top of the stuffing. Place in the oven and roast the turkey and stuffing for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the turkey is fully cooked and the juices run clear when the thickest part is pierced with a skewer.
Meanwhile, for the roast potatoes, put the potatoes in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole and cover with cold water. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a large colander and return to the saucepan. Shake vigorously to knock the potatoes about and scuff up the surface – this will make them much crisper when they roast.
Pour the oil over and toss together well. Scatter in a single layer onto a baking tray and roast for an hour, or until the potatoes are golden, crisp and tender in the centre.
Meanwhile, for the pigs in blankets, tuck a small sprig of rosemary under the bacon on each sausage. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray with the potatoes and drizzle with the honey. Roast for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
Remove the turkey from the oven, cover loosely with kitchen foil and a couple of dry tea towels and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
For the bread sauce (if making), put the bread sauce mix in a non-stick saucepan and stir in roughly a quarter of the milk. Mix until well combined, then add the remaining milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until thick and smooth, then add the cream and butter and cook for 1–2 minutes more. Pour into a warmed dish, sprinkle with a little nutmeg, and keep warm until ready to serve.
For the carrots, put the carrots in a microwave-proof serving dish and pour over the orange juice, dot with butter, sprinkle with parsley, add sugar and season with a little salt and lots of black pepper. Cover with cling film or a plate and cook on HIGH for 8 minutes, or until just tender, stirring halfway through cooking.
For the sprouts, put the butter, bacon, sprouts and chestnuts in a large non-stick saucepan or sauté pan and season well with black pepper. Add 200ml/7fl oz cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly until the sprouts are tender and the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile, for the gravy, put the gravy, bacon, port, cranberry sauce and dried sage, if using, in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with black pepper and a little salt, if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
To serve, warm your serving plates. Strain the gravy into warmed gravy boats and put on the table along with the roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, carrots and bread sauce (if making). Sprinkle the turkey with the remaining thyme and serve in the roasting dish along with the stuffing. Carve at the table.
If you want to prepare the roast potatoes in advance, leave the par-boiled and oiled potatoes to cool in a roasting tray and then freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag. Seal, label and freeze for up to 1 month. Roast for 1 hour.
For this recipe you will need: kitchen foil, 2 baking trays, a large, shallow ovenproof dish (such as a lasagne dish that’s large enough to hold the turkey crown), a microwave-proof serving dish (for the carrots), a microwave, a large pan (for the potatoes), 2–3 clean, dry tea towels and a few saucepans for the sides.