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I have made this turkey two Christmases in a row and have had rave reviews from all our guests! Its an adaptation of Nigella's recipe. It takes some time and preparation but is well worth it. Its super tender and super juicy. We always have loads of leftovers (due to the sheer size of the bird we buy) but they never last more than a few days and our place is always full until its all gone! It goes perfectly with my mushroom and chestnut stuffing and home-made cranberry sauce. enjoy! Note prep time does not include time in brine.
- 5 kg fresh whole turkey
for the brine
- 6 liters water
- 125 g salt
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon caraway seed
- 4 cloves
- 2 tablespoons allspice berries
- 4 star anise
- 2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
- 200 g caster sugar
- 2 onions, quartered
- 1 (6 cm) ginger, cut into 6 slices
- 1 orange, quartered
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons clear honey
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
for the basting glaze
- 100 g butter
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon pepper, ground
- 1 tablespoon sage, cut very fine
- 1 tablespoon oregano, cut very fine
- 1 tablespoon thyme, cut very fine
- 2 tablespoons rosemary, cut very fine
- 1 tablespoon chives, cut very fine
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- Rinse bird thoroughly on outside as well as inside the body and neck cavities.
- For the turkey, place the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the turkey ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck the pieces in.).
- Untie and remove any string or trussing attached to the turkey, shake it free and add it to the liquid. Add more water if the turkey is not completely submerged. Keep the mixture in a cold place, even outside overnight or for up to a day or two before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid (and wiping it dry with kitchen-towel) a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys - indeed this is the case for all meat - should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you're at all concerned - the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird - then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires.
- Lightly spoon stuffing into neck and body cavities. Pull neck skin to back and fasten with a skewer. If a band of skin crosses tail, tuck drumsticks under band. If there is no band, tie drumsticks to tail using 100-percent-cotton kitchen string. Twist wing tips under the back.
- Spoon half the basting glaze under the skin and massage it into as much of the bird as possible.
- Place the other half into a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until the ingredients have melted and combined.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C
- Roasting time is dependent on size of bird: Whole stuffed turkey - For 3.5 - 5kg turkey, roast for 3 to 3 3/4 hours. For 5 - 6.5kg turkey, roast for 3 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours. For 6.5 - 8kg turkey, roast for 4 to 5 hours. For 8 - 9kg turkey, roast for 4 1/2 to 5 1/4 hours. Always check doneness with thermometer (as instructed below) half an hour before recommended time is complete (to prevent overcooking and a dry bird.
- Place bird, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan; drizzle and brush top side with basting glaze. Turn over and brush bottom side with basting glaze. Keep your breast meat moist by roasting your turkey upside-down, breast down. This keeps all the juices from escaping.
- Cover with foil, leaving air space between bird and foil. Lightly press the foil to the ends of drumsticks and neck to enclose bird.
- Place oven rack in lowest position.
- Baste every half an hour throughout the turkey roasting time.
- Cook the turkey for half an hour at 220°C.
- Turn the oven down to 180C and continue cooking.
- Two-thirds through roasting time, cut band of skin or string between drumsticks.
- The last 45 minutes of roasting turn the turkey breast side up and uncover. This is a little messy - use towels to turn - but the breast meat ends up moist and juicy.
- Turn the oven back to 220C for the last 15mins or so to give a final browning boost to the skin.
- Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into centre of one of the inside thigh muscles. The thermometer should not touch bone. Continue roasting until meat thermometer registers 85C (check temperature of thigh in several places). Centre of stuffing should register 75°C.
- You can also check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey's cooked.
- Remove bird from oven; cover with foil. Just as it's crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it's important to let it stand out of the oven for 15-20 minutes before you actually carve it.