This recipe comes from Darina Allen’s book Easy Entertaining – Thanksgiving Turkey with Fresh Herb Stuffing and Spiced Cranberry Sauce.
For the fresh herb stuffing:
350g onions, chopped
400-450g soft breadcrumbs
50g chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savory, lemon balm
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5-5.4kg (10-12lb) free-range organic turkey, with neck and giblets
Sprigs of parsley, watercress or a sprig of holly, to garnish
Large square of muslin (optional)
For the spiced cranberry sauce:
125ml wine vinegar
1/2 stick cinnamon, 1 star anise, 6 cloves and a 5cm (2in) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced, 1 chilli, split and seeded, all tied in a muslin bag
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. To make the fresh herb stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for about 10 minutes, then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary, wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half-fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end.
2. Preheat the oven to 180º C/350º F/Gas Mark 4. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow 15 minutes per 450g (1lb), plus an additional 15 minutes.
3. Melt 2 dessertspoons of the butter and, if you have a large piece of good-quality muslin, soak it in the melted butter; cover the turkey completely with the muslin, place in a roasting tin and roast for 3 to 3 and a 1/2 hours. The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin, it is a good idea to cover the whole roasting tin with aluminium foil. However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense of the word.
4. The turkey is cooked when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices – they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.
5. Gravy: To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin. Deglaze the tin juices with the stock. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting tin. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gray boat.
6. Cranberry sauce: To make the spiced cranberry sauce, place the sugar, 225ml (8fl oz) water, the vinegar, spice bag and chilli in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the cranberries and simmer very gently until they become tender. Some will burst, but that’s OK. Add a little lemon juice to taste.
7. Serve with the turkey garnished with parsley, watercress or holly, roast potatoes along with the spiced cranberry sauce and the gravy.
Darina Allen owns and runs the world-regarded Cookery School at Ballymaloe