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    Fennel and citrus roast turkey

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    Fennel and citrus roast turkey

    Treat yourself to this recipe on Christmas Day and you will be hankering after turkey all year round. The white wine makes the meat incredibly juicy but also lends a subtle acidity to balance all those fragrant herbs, which are inspired by those used in Italian porchetta. A modern classic.

    • Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus resting
    • Cooking time: 2 hours 55 minutes (for a 5kg turkey)
    • Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes (for a 5kg turkey)

    Serves: 6-8 with leftovers


    1 medium free-range turkey (about 5kg)
    1½ tbsp sea salt flakes
    2 tsp fennel seeds
    1 tsp black peppercorns
    125g unsalted butter, softened
    1 unwaxed lemon, zested and halved
    1 orange, scrubbed, zested and halved
    4 garlic cloves, crushed
    6 sprigs rosemary
    6 sprigs thyme
    2 fresh bay leaves
    1 carrot, halved
    1 celery stick, cut into 3
    1 onion, halved
    500ml white wine
    3 tbsp olive oil
    Rosemary, bay leaves, oranges and pomegranate to decorate (optional)


    1. Remove the turkey from the fridge about 1 hour before roasting, to let it come to room temperature. Calculate the cooking time at 35 minutes per kg (so 2 hours 55 minutes for a 5kg turkey). Put the bird in a large roasting tin and set aside. In a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, finely grind the salt, fennel seeds and peppercorns; set aside. In a bowl, mash together the butter, citrus zests and garlic; set aside. Preheat the oven to 180˚C, gas mark 4.

    2. Carefully push your fingers between the skin and breast meat of the turkey to create 2 pockets, then push in the flavoured butter; smooth it down with your fingers. Sprinkle the fennel salt over the skin of the bird. Put the citrus halves and herbs into the cavity. Put the carrot, celery and onion in the tray; pour in the wine. Cover the tin in a double layer of thick foil, making sure it is well sealed. Roast for the calculated cooking time, minus 20 minutes. After this time, turn the oven up to 200˚C, gas mark 6, remove the foil from the turkey, drizzle the skin with a little olive oil and finish cooking, uncovered.

    3. To test if the turkey is cooked, push a skewer or small knife into the thickest part of the thigh; the juices should run clear. If not, return to the oven for 10 minutes before checking again. Repeat until cooked through and no pink meat remains. Transfer the turkey to a warm serving platter, cover with a layer of foil and a few clean tea towels. Rest for 1 hour-1 hour 15 minutes before carving. To decorate, surround the turkey with fresh herbs such as rosemary and bay leaves, charred orange halves and jewelled chunks of pomegranate, if liked. 

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    This recipe first appeared in Waitrose & Partners Food, December 2019 issue. Download the Waitrose & Partners Food app for the full issue


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