Classic roast turkey with gravy

  • 1 x 4.5- 5.4kg (10-12lbs) free-range organic turkey with neck and giblets
  • Fresh herb stuffing
  • 350g (12oz) chopped onions
  • 175g (6oz) butter
  • 400-500g (14-18oz) approx. Soft breadcrumbs made from good bread (check that the bread is non-GM)
  • 50G (2oz) freshly chopped herbs, eg. Parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savory, lemon balm
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the 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 turkey
  • 225g (8oz) butter
  • Large square of muslin (optional)

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, three hours approx.

2. To make the fresh herd stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for about ten minutes, on a low heat, then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. Season the cavity of the bird and stuff with three-quarters of the cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end, or you may decide to do a different stuffing. Either way, tuck the remaining neck flap underneath the bird and secure with the wing tips.

3. Preheat the oven to 180C /350F/ Gas Mark 4. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow about 15 mins per 450g (11lb) and 15 mins over. Melt the butter for basting the turkey and soak a large piece of good-quality muslin and roast in the preheated moderate over for 2 ¼ - 3 ¼ hours. There is no need to baste it because of the butter soaked muslin. The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin ten minutes before the end of 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 the butter-soaked muslin, then it is a good idea to cover the whole dish with a large sheet of parchment. However, your turkey with then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense. 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.

4. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it 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 and season (thicken with a little roux if you like). Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve it a hot gravy boat. If possible, surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly. Make sure no one eats the berries.

6. Serve with cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy.