The Perfect Christmas Turkey
- 20ml/¾fl oz rapeseed oil
- 1 x 5kg/11lb good-quality free-range turkey, preferably organically reared, wishbone removed (ask your butcher to remove the wings and neck and chop them into 2.5cm/1in pieces to use in the dish)
- 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 pinches sea saltflakes
- 2 pinches freshly ground white pepper
- 200ml/7fl oz water
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tsp ground arrowroot(depending on how thick you like your gravy), dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water
- roast potatoesand steamed seasonal vegetables, to serve
- Remove the turkey from the fridge and bring to room temperature - this will take at least an hour.
- When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 230C/220C Fan/Gas 8.
- Heat the rapeseed oil in a large, heavy-based roasting tray on the stove top. Add the chopped turkey wings and neck and fry for 8-10 minutes, turning the pieces over every 2-3 minutes, or until evenly browned all over.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soften the butter with the back of a dessert spoon, then season with the salt and freshly ground white pepper. Using a pastry brush or your hands, smear the seasoned butter all over the turkey. Add any remaining butter to the roasting tray once the chopped wings and neck have browned.
- Place the turkey on top of the wing and neck pieces, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and baste all over with the cooking juices.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/150C Fan/Gas 3.
- Pour the water into the roasting tray, then return the turkey to the oven and continue to cook for a further 1 hour, basting the bird with the cooking juices every 20 minutes (do this quickly to prevent the heat escaping from the oven).
- At the end of the cooking time, test that the turkey is cooked through by inserting a skewer or roasting fork into the thickest part of its thigh; if the juices run clear, the meat is cooked. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer; if cooked, the temperature should be 65C for 10 minutes, or up to 74C for 2 minutes. If the turkey is not fully cooked, return it to the oven until the juices run clear.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer the bird to a large, deep-sided tray, reserving the roasting tray the turkey was cooked in along with the cooking juices. Set the turkey aside to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1½ hours.
- While the turkey is resting, cook your roast potatoes and vegetable dishes.
- When you’re almost ready to serve the meal, return the roasting tray used to cook the turkey to the stove top. Bring the cooking juices to the boil over a medium heat, scraping up any burned bits from the bottom of the tray using a wooden spoon.
- Collect the juices released by the turkey as it was resting and add them to the gravy. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.
- Reduce the heat until the gravy is simmering, then stir in the dissolved arrowroot and cook until the gravy has thickened.
- Strain the gravy through a fine sieve into a warmed jug. Keep warm.
- To serve, bring the turkey to the table and carve into slices. Serve with the roast potatoes and vegetables. Pour over the gravy.