Roast turkey with rosemary, thyme & lemon butter
This herb-infused bird is juicy and brimming with flavour. Prep up to the end of step 3 the night before, then refrigerate, ready to cook the next day. The leftovers can be made into a delicious turkey and ham pie, and the carcass frozen to use for stock.
Recipe by Angela Hartnett
- CourseMain meal
- Prepare30 mins
- Cook4 hrs
- Total time4 hrs 30 mins
- 2 unwaxed lemon
- 200g salted butter, softened
- ½ x 20g pack thyme, leaves finely chopped, stalks reserved
- ½ x 20g pack rosemary, leaves finely chopped, stalks reserved
- 4-6kg free-range Bronze turkey
- 2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
- 10 rasher/s thick streaky unsmoked bacon
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks
- 2 sticks celery, cut into 5cm chunks
- 1 bulb/s garlic, halved
Zest the lemons, then cut them into quarters. In a bowl, combine the butter, chopped herb leaves and lemon zest; set aside.
To give the gravy extra flavour, trim away the turkey wingtips, parson’s nose (the fleshy bump at the tail-end of the bird) and the feathery tips from the drumsticks and set aside (or leave on, if you prefer). Stuff the turkey cavity with the lemon quarters, herb stalks and 4 onion quarters. Truss the turkey legs together with string, if you like. Pat the turkey skin dry with kitchen paper, then spread the herb butter evenly over the skin. Season the turkey and arrange the bacon over the breasts and legs.
Lay two large pieces of foil in a cross shape in a large roasting tin, leaving the excess overhanging the edges. Arrange the remaining ingredients in the base of the tray, rest the turkey on top, then wrap and fold the foil to enclose the turkey and veg, leaving a large air gap at the top. If you want to use a conventional (not digital) meat thermometer, stick it into the thickest part of the turkey thigh before sealing the foil.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC, gas mark 3. Roast the turkey for 2 hours 45 minutes (for around 4kg bird) to 3 hours 30 minutes (for around 6kg bird), unwrapping the foil and basting with the juices from time to time. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C, gas mark 7. Take the turkey out of the oven, fold back the foil, remove the bacon (save it for a leftovers sandwich), then baste the bird and return it to the hot oven for 20-30 minutes for the skin to brown and become crisp.
Check the turkey is thoroughly cooked: a conventional thermometer should read 75-80ºC. If using a digital thermometer, stick the probe into the thickest part of the thigh. It should also read 75-80ºC and the juices should run clear with no pink meat remaining; if not, roast for a little longer, covering with foil if the turkey is already brown enough. Once cooked, transfer the turkey to a board or platter, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Set aside the roasting tin with the roasted vegetables for the gravy.
Halve 2-3 lemons, then char on a griddle or frying pan and use to decorate the finished bird.
And to drink...
For Christmas Day, La Gioiosa Asolo Prosecco, Italy is from one of the country’s leading prosecco producers. It will go very nicely with the turkey and trimmings as well as any smoked salmon you might have beforehand.
If you like white with your turkey, try Piccozza Pinot Bianco, Italy, an elegant wine with vivid, fresh flavours.
Rather have red? Villa Antinori, Italy goes brilliantly with the turkey as well as the fruitiness in stuffng and cranberry sauce.
Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe