Cranberry Christmas turkey

Bacon & thyme

Cranberry Christmas turkey

Cranberry Christmas turkey

Serves Makes 190, Serves 12 with lots of leftovers
Time Cooks In3 hours 10 minutes (10 minutes prep, 3 hours cook, plus resting)
DifficultyNot too tricky
Nutrition per serving Plus
  • Calories 252 13%
  • Fat 14.9g 21%
  • Saturates 6.6g 33%
  • Sugars 0.2g 0%
  • Salt 0.4g 7%
  • Protein 29.3g 59%
  • Carbs 0.4g 0%
  • Fibre 0.3g -
Of an adult's reference intake
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  • 1 x 7 kg free-range turkey , with giblets (I use a Paul Kelly bird)
  • 100 g dried cranberries
  • 1 big bunch of fresh thyme , (60g)
  • 250 g unsalted butter , (at room temperature)
  • 12 rashers of higher-welfare smoked streaky bacon
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Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to let it come up to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Finely chop the cranberries, then pick the leaves from a few thyme sprigs and mix with the butter, seasoning with a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Gently push a rubber spatula between the skin and the breast meat of the turkey to create a pocket, then push in half the butter and smooth it down with your fingers (see tip). Rub any excess butter from your hands over the skin, getting into all the nooks and crannies, then stuff half the remaining thyme sprigs into the cavity.

Place the giblets in a large roasting tray with the remaining thyme, then sit the turkey on top and cover the bird snugly with tin foil. Place the turkey in the hot oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes per kilo for a higher-welfare bird, or 35 to 40 minutes per kilo for a standard bird.

After 2 hours 40 minutes, remove the foil and spoon some fat from the bottom of the pan over the bird. Carefully dip the bacon in the meat juices and drape or weave over the bird. Return the turkey to the oven for the remaining time, or until golden and cooked through. To check if it’s cooked, stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh – if the juices run clear and the meat pulls apart easily, it’s cooked. If not, cook it for a bit longer then check again. Use heavy-duty tongs to lift up your bird so all the juices run from the cavity into the tray, then transfer the turkey to a platter, cover with a double layer of foil and a tea towel, and leave to rest for up to 2 hours. Reserve the tray of giblets and juices to make my Chestnut gravy.


Roll the remaining butter up in greaseproof paper to make a log, then scrunch the ends like a cracker. Pop into the freezer for 2 hours, then, before it gets too hard, remove, unwrap and slice into the appropriate number of portions. Re-shape, re-roll and re-wrap, then pop it back into the freezer. Use throughout the festive season to add a Christmassy touch to veg and more.