If you want to be sure that your turkey is cooked, invest in a meat thermometer and push it into the thickest part of one of the thighs.
This will then clearly show you when the turkey is cooked, leaving no doubt in your mind. Ask your butcher for the giblets with your turkey, as they make excellent stock.
I always soak mine in cold water overnight to remove any impurities.
Place them in a pan with a chopped carrot and onion, 6 whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves and a sprig of thyme. Pour in 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and use as required. Serves 10–12
6kg (13lb) oven-ready turkey, at room temperature (preferably free range)
100g (4oz) butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp ruby red port or red wine
600ml (1 pint) turkey or chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
small bunch of fresh herbs, to garnish (to include rosemary, sage and thyme)
crispy roast potatoes
roasted root vegetables with sesame seeds
Brussels sprout crumble
75g (3oz) butter
1 large onion
diced 175g (6oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).
1 To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until softened but not coloured. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl and tip in the cooked onion and the parsley, sage and thyme. Mix well to combine and season to taste.
2 To stuff the turkey, start at the neck end, where you’ll find a flap of loose skin. Gently loosen this away from the breast and you’ll be able to make a triangular pocket. Pack the stuffing inside as far as you can go and make a neat round shape on the outside, then tuck the neck flap under the turkey and secure it with a small skewer.
3 Smear the skin of the turkey all over with most of the butter and season generously. Turn the turkey breast side up and tie the tops of the drumsticks with string. Weigh the turkey to calculate the required cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes extra – a 6kg (13lb) turkey should take about 4 hours 40 minutes to cook.
4 Lay a large sheet of foil lengthways over a large roasting tin, leaving enough at each end to wrap over the turkey, then lightly butter the foil. Repeat this with another sheet of foil, this time across the tin. Lightly butter the foil once again. Place the stuffed turkey breast side up in the centre of the foil, then wrap loosely to enclose, allowing air to circulate around the turkey.
5 Place in the oven and cook according to your calculated cooking time, carefully unwrapping and basting every 40 minutes. For the final hour, fold back the foil and use it to cover the ends of the drumsticks to prevent them from burning. Baste well and return to the oven. The turkey should be a rich, dark brown colour. To be sure it’s cooked, insert a fine skewer into the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run clear, but if they are still pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again every 15 minutes until you are happy that the turkey is cooked right the way through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a warmed serving platter. Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for at least 10 minutes, or up to 30 minutes is fine.
6 Remove the foil from the roasting tin and pour any juices that collected in it into the tin. Place the tin directly on the hob over a gentle heat and skim off any excess fat from the cooking juices. Stir the flour into the tin’s residue. Cook on the hob for 1–2 minutes, stirring until golden. Pour in the port or red wine, stirring to combine, then gradually add the stock, stirring until smooth after each addition. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, until reduced and thickened to a gravy consistency, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.
7 To serve, garnish the turkey with the bunch of herbs in the cavity and bring to the table. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the gravy, the roast potatoes, roasted root vegetables and Brussels sprout crumble.