Traditionally Roast Goose was the preferred Christmas roast in Britain until the new-fangled Turkey arrived from America in the 16th century. Now, no Christmas dinner is complete without a Turkey, and in Britain that roast bird comes stuffed with sage and onion.
It is advisable to order a fresh turkey well in advance to collect by the 23rd or 24th December. If you don't order a bird, you may be left with the frozen varieties which, I am sorry to say are nowhere as good as a fresh one.
Remove the turkey from the fridge several hours before cooking as it must be at room temperature before cooking to prevent the turkey drying out in the oven.
This recipes serves 12, for other weights and cooking times refer the the Roast Turkey Cooking Guide .
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1lb/450g pork sausage meat
- 2 level tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
- 2 level tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 oz/25g fresh white breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
- 1 14lb/6.3kg oven-ready turkey
- 4oz/110g soft butter
- 8oz/225g streaky bacon, thinly sliced
- 1¼ pints/1 litre poultry stock
- 2 tbsp all purpose/plain flour
- ¼ pint/150 ml Port
- 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7
- Prepare the stuffing: In a large bowl mix together the onion, pork sausage meat, herbs, breadcrumbs and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Slip your fingers under the skin at the neck end and loosen to create a cavity over the breast. Stuff the neck end with the onion and sage stuffing up to the breast. Tuck the loose skin underneath and secure with a fine metal skewer.
- Smear the soft butter evenly over the breast and legs of the turkey. Lay thin slices of bacon neatly across the breast and top surface of the legs. Sprinkle the whole turkey liberally with salt and pepper.
- Lay two large sheets of aluminum foil over a roasting tin large enough to hold the bird. Place the bird back down and fold the foil loosely over the bird leaving a roomy gap between the bird and the foil to allow steam to escape.
- Roast in the preheated oven for 40 minutes then lower the temperature to 325°F/160°C/Gas 3 and cook for 3½ hours basting from time to time.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, raise the temperature to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Fold back the foil on the turkey, remove the bacon and pour any juices into a jug or bowl. Return the turkey to the oven and cook for a further 30 mins to crisp the skin.
- Remove from the oven and check the temperature with a meat thermometer placed into the thickest past of the thigh, the turkey is cooked if the temperature is 175°F/80°C. If you don't have a thermometer the turkey is cooked if the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a small sharp knife. If the juices are pink return to the oven and cook until they run clear.
- When cooked, leave the turkey to rest for 30 mins wrapped loosely with fresh foil before carving. Meanwhile make the gravy.
- Pour all the juices from the roasting tin into the bowl or jug with the juices saved from the foil. Spoon off all the fat which will float to the surface and discard. Place the roasting tin on a high heat on the stove top, add the flour and stir to scrape up all the sediment from the tin. Cook for one minute. Pour in the port and stir well then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the turkey juices, bring back to the boil and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the redcurrant jelly stir until dissolved then strain into a gravy boat or serving jug.