The trick to cooking a perfect turkey? Stuff, truss and flip. By which I mean stuff it with a buttery stuffing (including under the breast skin), then trussing it to keep the legs and wings tucked into the body for even cooking, and once cooked, flip it to rest on its breast so that all the juices run down to moisten the breast meat.
2 cups sourdough breadcrumbs
200g butter, softened
1 large onion, finely diced
Big handful mixed fresh herbs – I use rosemary, sage and parsley
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
3 teaspoons sea salt flakes
1 medium turkey, thawed
150ml wine or water (or a mix)
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Oil a large roasting dish that will fit your bird.
2. Make the stuffing by mixing the breadcrumbs, butter, onion, herbs, pepper and 2 teaspoons of the salt.
3. Pat the turkey dry all over, inside and out, then place in the roasting dish. Stuff half the stuffing under the skin of both breasts, being careful not to tear it. Use the remaining stuffing to fill the cavity.
4. Use kitchen string to truss your turkey so that the wings and legs are tucked into the body of the turkey and cover the cavity opening.
5. Pour wine/water into the roasting dish. Oil turkey skin all over and sprinkle with remaining salt. Cover breast with baking paper then seal the dish with a double layer of foil.
6. Cook for the time recommended on the packaging, minus 20 minutes. Remove foil, baste and continue cooking for the remaining 20 minutes so that it’s brown all over and cooked through.
7. Rest on a board, breast side down, for 10-15 minutes before carving. I use the roasting pan juices to make gravy with flour, wine and stock and/or to crisp and cook par-boiled new season potatoes.
8. Transfer your turkey to a serving dish and make it a masterpiece by surrounding it in herbs and presenting it to the table, ready to be carved.
If you have a small group, use leftover turkey meat to make a turkey and leek pie. You can use this recipe with a chicken instead, adjusting the cooking time to suit.
PHOTOGRAPHY: TODD EYRES