Serves 6, with leftovers
Prepare: 20 minutes, plus brining
Cook: 3–4 hours (40mins/kg), plus resting
- 4–4.5kg free-range turkey
- 800g salt
- 200g unsalted butter, at
- room temperature
- 3 onions, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 3 leeks, sliced (white and pale
- green parts only)
- 50ml dry white wine
- 15g rosemary
- 15g thyme
- Chop the wing tips off the turkey and reserve for the gravy.
- Brine the turkey on Christmas Eve by mixing the salt and 10 litres of water in a clean container and stirring until the salt has dissolved. Submerge the turkey in the brine, cover with a lid or foil and leave in a cool place for at least nine hours or overnight.
Remove the bird from the brine and submerge it in cold water for one hour, changing the water at 15-minute intervals. Dry the turkey well with kitchen paper.
- Preheat the oven to 210c, fan oven 200c, gas mark 6. With clean hands, work the skin away from the flesh of the bird and rub 100g of butter between the skin and the flesh, being careful not to tear the skin. Rub any remaining butter over the skin of the bird. Season with salt and black pepper.
Set the bird on top of the onions, carrots and leeks in a roasting tin; add the wine and cook in the oven for 30 minutes to colour the skin.
- Melt the remaining 100g butter in a pan and add the rosemary and thyme.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 130c, fan oven 120c, gas mark ½. Baste the turkey with the herb butter and cook until the thickest part around the neck or thigh reaches 70c (you’ll need a probe thermometer). Continue basting every 45 minutes (when the butter gets used up, use the cooking juices in the roasting tin to baste). This should take three to three-and-a-half hours, depending on the size of the turkey and the type of oven.
It is important to check that the turkey is cooked by cutting into the thickest part (between the breast and thigh) to be sure that none of the meat is pink, and the juices run clear.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Reserve the pan juices and vegetables for making the gravy.