Christmas Roast Turkey

Why spend endless hours labouring on your Christmas dinner when you can get mouthwatering results with less effort? For the turkey, I’ve chosen a delicious recipe from my 85-year-old aunt
in Brooklyn, New York.

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Roast turkey ingredients:

  • 5kg turkey
  • Extra virgin olive oil on demand
  • White wine on demand
  • 400ml apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh sage, rosemary and thyme
  • 14 cloves of garlic
  • 3 medium onions
  • 1 large lemon
  • A heaped tablespoon of coarse salt
  • A heaped tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper

This recipe produces a moist, delicious turkey with a crisp golden skin. The emphasis is on getting it right with the least amount of effort. Arrange the raw bird on a work surface, remove the little pack of spares (giblets, neck and so forth) and wipe down the inside and skin of the turkey with a fresh paper towel.

Combine the coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper in a bowl. Then carefully remove the zest from the lemon with a zesting tool or a fine grater. Note that the zest is the ultrathin outer layer of the peel and not the peel itself. Add the zest to the salt and pepper and mix it all together. Wash your hands thoroughly and rub the mixture onto the turkey’s skin.

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Next, select four or five sprigs each of rosemary, thyme and sage. Crush and peel all the garlic, reducing the number of cloves if you lose your nerve. Eight is an absolute minimum, though. The next step is to slide the turkey into a large plastic bag with the herbs and garlic. Seal the bag and allow the turkey to stand in a refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. If you decide on a chilled overnight stay for the bird, remember to let it return to room temperature for at least an hour prior to roasting.

Preheat the oven to 230°C and place the turkey in a roasting pan. Dab the lemon dry with a paper towel, then cut it into quarters. Next, peel and quarter the onions. Drop some of the lemon sections into the pan, along with all the apple cider and enough white wine to fill the base of the pan to a depth of 15mm. Insert the remainder of the lemon and onion quarters into the body cavity of the bird along with a sprig or two of all three fresh herbs.

Rub the olive oil onto the skin of the turkey with your hands, a drizzling bottle or a small brush. Place the bird in the
oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180°C for a total cooking time of between two and twoand- a-half hours. It will be perfectly done when a meat thermometer registers 75°C. This is the only way to be sure. Everything else is trial and error, magic and superstition.

Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. But what about the stuffing, I hear you cry? This bird cooks best and fastest without ‘stuffing’ its inside. Best practice is to cook the stuffing next to the bird, arranged on the roasting pan.

Bon appétit, and may your Christmas dinner be a joyous, memorable occasion!