This recipe should guarantee a succulent and perfectly cooked turkey and the stuffing adds a lovely fresh note. Turkeys vary in weight but you need to allow 20 minutes per 500g/1lb 2oz weight, plus an extra 20 minutes

Serves 6

Preparation time 20 minutes Cooking time 3 hours


1 x 4kg/9lb oven-ready turkey, giblets removed

1 onion, halved

1 lemon, halved

75g/3oz butter, softened

100g/4oz watercress, picked over and rinsed

For the stuffing

50g/2oz butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

100g/4oz watercress, chopped

50g/2oz blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Zest and juice of 1 large orange

200g/7oz fresh white breadcrumbs

Generous pinch of dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper For the gravy

500ml/18fl oz hot chicken stock

100ml/4fl oz sherry or dry white wine

2 tbsp cornflour

1. First make the stuffing. Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and celery and cook over a medium heat until soft and pale golden.

Add the garlic and watercress then cook for a further 2 minutes until the watercress has wilted.

2. Remove from the heat and tip into a large bowl. Add the hazelnuts, orange zest and juice, breadcrumbs, thyme and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a little salt to taste. Mix well and leave until cold.

3. Preheat the oven to 190°C, 375°F, Gas 5.

4. Wash the turkey inside and out and dry with kitchen paper. Place the onion and lemon inside the cavity. Spoon the stuffing into the neck flap of the turkey, packing it in tightly, then secure the flap with cocktail sticks or sew it together.

5. Line a large roasting tray with 2 pieces of wide foil laid like a cross. Place the turkey in the centre of the foil, rub the breast and legs with the butter and season with salt and black pepper. Pull the foil up and around the turkey to tent the bird, sealing it at the edges. Place in the centre of the oven and roast for 3 hours.

6. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the bird from the oven, loosen the foil and spoon the cooking juices over the bird to baste, reseal the foil and continue to roast. About 40 minutes before the end of cooking, remove the bird from the oven, fold back the foil, baste with the juices again then roast uncovered until the turkey is a lovely golden brown. Remove the bird from the oven, transfer to a board, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes – this makes carving easier.

7. For the gravy, pour the hot stock into the roasting tin and use a wooden spoon to scrape away all the cooking juices that have collected on the foil and in the tin. Pour the liquid through a sieve into a medium pan. Place on the hob, add the sherry or wine, bring to the boil and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes.

Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with a little cold water then add to the gravy, stirring until the gravy boils and thickens. Transfer to a warm gravy boat and keep warm.

8. To present the turkey for the table, take a large, warm serving platter, scatter the watercress all over the plate. Lift the turkey from the board and arrange in the centre of the leaves. The leaves will wilt and soak up the juices from the bird as it is carved. Serve the turkey and stuffing in slices with a good portion of the wilted watercress.




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