Roast turkey with gravy

  • Preparation Time20 mins
  • Cooking Time195 mins
  • Serves8
  • DifficultyEasy
1 (5.5 to 6.3kg) turkey
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions
1 head garlic
Several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, rosemary or sage
2 bay leaves
2 to 4 medium carrots
2 to 4 celery stalks
120g unsalted butter
2L chicken stock
75g plain flour
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Apple-cranberry dressing, recipe follows

For the apple-cranberry dressing

90g unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
450g sliced white sandwich bread
1 large cooking apple
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks with leaves
70g dried apricots
Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
35g dried cranberries
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
0.5 tsp salt
Pinch fennel seeds, optional
700ml chicken stock
5g of parsley, chopped
1 large egg
30ml turkey or chicken pan drippings or 30g melted butter
1) Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and remove the other racks. Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Discard the liver, set the other giblets aside. Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towel.

2) Season the breast cavity with salt and pepper. Slice the onions and halve the garlic head crosswise. Stuff all of the garlic and half the onions inside the turkey, along with some of the herbs and one bay leaf.

3) Halve the carrots and celery lengthwise, put them in the centre of the roasting tin and set the turkey, breast side up, on top of the vegetables. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and brush about half of it all over the bird, then season the skin with salt and pepper. Tent the turkey with aluminium foil and roast for 2 hours.

4) Set aside about 45g of the butter for basting the bird. Cook the rest of the onion, neck and giblets in the remaining butter in the saucepan, over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until browned, about 15 minutes. Add the stock, remaining herbs and bay leaf. Cover and simmer over a medium-low heat while the turkey roasts, about 2 hours. Discard the giblets if desired or reserve them for the gravy.

5) After 2 hours, remove the foil from the turkey and use a pastry brush to baste the turkey with the reserved butter and some of the pan drippings. Increase the oven temperature to 220C/Gas 7 and continue to roast the bird until an instant-read thermometer stuck in the thigh registers between 76C and 82C, about 1 hour more. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

For the gravy:
1) Pour all of the turkey pan drippings into a liquid measuring cup and discard the vegetables. Ladle 120ml of the fat from the top of the drippings and transfer to a saucepan. (Put the measuring cup with the remaining drippings and fat in the freezer for a few minutes to separate.)

2) Heat the fat over a medium heat, scatter the flour evenly on top and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the flour browns slightly and smells toasty, about 4 minutes.

3) Switch to a whisk, then gradually and carefully ladle the hot stock into the flour mixture while whisking constantly. Bring the gravy to a boil and adjust the heat so it simmers gently.

4) Skim and discard any excess fat from the remaining drippings and add the pan juices to the gravy. Continue to simmer, whisking occasionally, until the gravy has thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper.

5) Remove and discard the onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaf from the turkey cavity. Pour any juices that have accumulated into the gravy. Carve the turkey.

For the apple-cranberry dressing:
1) Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Butter a shallow 3L casserole. Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. Lay the bread pieces in a single layer on one or two baking sheets. Bake until slightly dry and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool.

2) Peel, core and coarsely chop the apple. Coarsely chop the onion, celery and apricots. Chop the parsley.

3) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple, onion, celery, apricots, cranberries, thyme, salt and fennel seeds. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and parsley and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

4) Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the toasted bread and the onion and fruit mixture, and toss until evenly moistened. Loosely pack the dressing into the prepared casserole. Bake, uncovered, until the top is crusty, about 40 minutes.

5) Drizzle the pan drippings or melted butter over the top. Cook until the top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes more.

Cook's note: Put the dressing in the oven during the last hour of cooking the turkey.
To make this recipe your own, cook some pork sausage until brown and crispy in the skillet. Remove to a plate and cook the vegetables and fruit in the residual fat. Stir the sausage into the stuffing just before baking.

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