Ultimate Christmas Turkey with Celery, Lemon and Thyme Stuffing
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The secret in a good Christmas dinner is to have a fresh local bird. Today the choice is there with more commitment from farms and butchers like Joe McGee at Gortnagarn Farm to provide us with the option of fresh, free range, bronze or black turkey. I firmly believe if you can afford the little extra then a fresh bird gives added value in flavour and more options when it comes to the leftovers. The Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables are an ideal dish for the Sunday Roast, great for Christmas Lunch and served as a vegetarian dish with crumbled cheese sprinkled over the top.
- 1 turkey approx 11lbs/5kg
- 4ozs/110g softened butter
- 10 rashers streaky bacon
- 2-3 dsp olive oil
- 220g/8ozs white breadcrumbs
- 4 stalks celery – finely chopped
- 2 lemons – rind and juice
- 1 small onion – finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2-3 dsp freshly chopped parsley
- 1 egg
- 50g/2ozs butter or poly unsaturated fat
- 250ml/½pt stock
Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables
- 1 onion – cut into chunks
- 2 carrots – cut into large chunks
- 2 parsnips – cut into large chunks
- 1 small turnip – cut into large chunks
- 10-12 baby potatoes
- 2 courgettes – cut into chunks
- 4 cloves garlic – peeled
- 1 red chilli – finely chopped
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 4 dsp olive oil
- 2 dsp honey
- Herbs – sprigs of thyme, parsley
- 2 dsp balsamic vinegar
Prepare all of the above ingredients – make the breadcrumbs, chop parsley and celery, finely grate lemon, squeeze the juice, chop onion.
Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the celery, onion, thyme, parsley and coat well.
Add the breadcrumbs, mix well and finally the beaten egg. Bind well together then use the stuffing either for the neck of the bird or cook separately in an ovenproof dish covered with foil for 25-30 minutes.
Jenny’s Way to Cook the Turkey
Arrange 2 large sheets of foil across the roasting tray. Place the turkey on top of the foil and cover with softened butter. Sprinkle with black pepper and a hint of allspice.
Lay the rashers of bacon over the breast, moisture, just overlapping. Place 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 onion, and bunch of herbs in the cavity. Pour the stock around the turkey, fold over the foil and bake in the oven.
Place in a hot oven Gas No.7/425°F/220°C for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to Gas No.3 / 325°F / 170°C for a further 2½ – 3 hours.
Just before serving turn the temperature up to 200°C/Gas No.5, open the foil, remove the bacon and allow the turkey to crisp up. Remember to baste the turkey occasionally during cooking. When cooked, remove from the foil, place in a warm place and allow the turkey standing time to release before carving and serving.
Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables
Choose vegetables in prime condition
With root vegetables wash well and scrape then cut into large chunks. The larger the pieces the more they retain that wonderful flavour of late Autumn to Winter.
Scrub the baby potatoes, cut the courgettes into chunks, peel the garlic and chop the chilli very finely.
In a large roasting dish, heat the olive oil, add the garlic, potatoes, onion, carrots, parsnips, turnip, courgettes. Toss around in the olive oil then pour over the honey, balsamic, cumin powder and coarsely chopped herbs. With the thyme be careful to remove the woody stem from the herb.
Mix all the ingredients well together then season with freshly milled black pepper
Cover with foil and place in a hot oven at 200°C/Gas Mark 6 for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Good long slow cooking develops the flavour of these vegetables during cooking but every 15 minutes remove the foil to toss the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are roasted, blackened and softened. Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving around the turkey.
A few seasonal additions can be made to this recipe
- 150g/6oz baby tomatoes
- Seasonal pumpkin or squash
Tips for Best Ever Gravy
Remove the turkey juices from the foil along with the concentrated bits in the roasting dish. Reduce the liquid over a high heat, add 1-2 dsp redcurrant jelly, a little water or stock, seasoning and if liked a few bay leaves. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes then strain.
- Ultimate Christmas Turkey with Lemon Thyme, Celery and Stuffing
- Red Currant flavoured Gravy
- Cranberry Sauce
- Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables