Old-fashioned Roast Turkey With Home-made Stuffing

Serves 10–12.

  • 1 x 4.5–5.4kg free-range, organic turkey with neck and giblets
  • fresh herb stuffing
  • 350g chopped onions
  • 175g butter
  • 400–500g approx. soft breadcrumbs made from good non-GM bread or approx. 600g gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 50g freshly chopped herbs, e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

TURKEY STOCK

  • neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone and wing tips of turkey
  • 2 carrots, sliced 2 onions, sliced 1 stalk of celery
  • green part of a couple of leeks, if available
  • bouquet garni
  • 3 or 4 peppercorns

FOR BASTING THE TURKEY

  • 225g butter
  • large square of muslin (optional)

TO GARNISH

  • large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress
  1. Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey, for ease of carving later. Using a tall, narrow saucepan, make a turkey stock by covering the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, wing tips, vegetables, bouquet garni and peppercorns with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer while the turkey is being prepared and cooked, 3 hours approx.
  2. To make the fresh herb stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., on a low heat, then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary, wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and three-quarters fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end. Tuck the neck flap underneath the bird and secure with the wing tips.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Calculate the cooking time for the turkey, allowing 15 minutes approx. per 450g and 15 minutes over. Melt the butter for basting the turkey and soak a large piece of good-quality muslin in the melted butter. Cover the turkey completely with the muslin and roast in the preheated moderate oven for 2¼–3¼ hours. There is no need to baste it because of the butter-soaked muslin. If you want the turkey extra brown, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin then cover the whole dish with a large sheet of parchment. However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed rather than roasted in the traditional sense.
  4. The turkey is cooked when the thigh juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy.
  5. To make the gravy, spoon the surplus fat from the roasting pan. Deglaze the pan juices with fat-free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat. Present the turkey surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and garnished with parsley or watercress. Serve with cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy.