“For many of us, Christmas dinner is all about the turkey. While a traditional roast is absolutely beautiful, this recipe is a fantastic opportunity to try something new. Get yourself a crown and ask your butcher to debone the legs – so you can simply stuff with my apricot & sausage stuffing, roll and cook both cuts to perfection in the same amount of time. This is a totally flexible, super-easy way to get the most out of your bird, no matter how many people you’re feeding. ”
1. You can do all this prep on Christmas Eve, ready for the big day. Check the main cavity for the bag of giblets, and if they’re in there, remove them and tip into a large roasting tray. The flavour they will add to your gravy will be incredible – trust me.
2. Peel and quarter the onions, and roughly chop the rest of the veg (there’s no need to peel them), adding everything to the tray as you go. Halve and add the clementines, then throw in the woody herbs and bay leaves.
3. Fill the neck cavity with half of the stuffing (don’t stuff it in too tightly), then pull the skin back over, and tuck it under the bird, then place the turkey on top of the vegetable trivet.
4. Lay your deboned turkey legs skin-side down on a board. Now, you're aiming to create a flat rectangular surface area for stuffing, but don't worry, it doesn't need to be perfect – just try to make it roughly the same thickness all over. Start by slicing away from you into the thickest part of the meat, then fold over and open it out flat, like a book.
5. Lay 16 x 30cm pieces of string on your chopping board in two sets of eight, making sure there is a 2cm gap in between each piece. Place the turkey legs skin-side down on top of the string, ensuring there are 8 pieces under each leg. Pack the remaining stuffing into the middle of each leg, filling in any pockets left by the bones, then wrap the meat back over and tie it tightly with the string using a double-knot. Transfer to a small roasting tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each of the legs and crown, and rub it into the meat, then cover both trays with tin foil and store in the fridge overnight.
ON THE DAY
6. Take your turkey trays out of the fridge 1 hour before they are due to go in the oven.
7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and season the crown and legs with sea salt and black pepper.
8. As a guide, you want to cook a stuffed higher-welfare bird for 25 to 30 minutes per kilo, and a standard bird for 35 to 40 minutes per kilo. If you have a 3kg crown and 2 stuffed turkey legs, like I have here, roast them for 1 hour 30 minutes, basting several times with the lovely juices in the tray.
9. To check the meat is cooked, the simplest way is to stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh or breast – if the juices run clear, it’s done. If you’re worried, you could also use a meat thermometer. You need to reach an internal temperature of 65ºC for a top-quality bird, such as Paul Kelly’s turkeys, or 70ºC for a supermarket higher-welfare or standard bird.
10. 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, and brush the legs with the maple syrup or honey. Cover with a double layer of tin foil and a clean tea towel, then leave to rest for up to 2 hours while you crack on with everything else. To see how you finish off your gravy, check out my Chestnut gravy recipe.
11. To carve the legs, cut off the string and slice, at an angle, through the juicy leg meat. For the crown, cut along the backbone with the length of your knife all the way down it until you hit the carcass. You can then lift the whole breast off the bone. Remove to a board and slice.
These nutritional values are based on 120g of cooked turkey, per person.