How to make the ultimate Christmas turkey


For the brine:

6.5 kilogram free range turkey

5 litres water

2 teaspoons table salt

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole cloves

½ teaspoon caraway seeds

Star anise

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

250 millilitres white wine

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

For roasting the turkey:

1 onion, peeled and halved

1 large carrot, peeled and quartered

2 sticks celery halved

2 cloves garlic, peeled

drizzle of olive oil

bay leaves

small bunch of thyme

pepper for seasoning

Bacon rashers (optional) for the breast

1 bulb garlic, halved

For the stuffing:

1 savoy cabbage

6 sausages, removed from their skins

200 grams chestnuts, chopped

4 sprigs thyme

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons goose fat

Salt and pepper

For the gravy:

1 pint Chicken or turkey stock

1 large glass port

1 tablespoon flour


For the brine, in a large pot add the water. Add in all of the turkey brine ingredients – stir to dissolve salt & sugar. Remove any string attached to the turkey, remove the legs from the turkey and put them back in the fridge covered. Add the turkey breast & crown to the liquid- add more liquid if needed. Bring up to the boil and then let it cool to room temperature. Put in the fridge or if the pot doesn’t fit somewhere cold, even outside. Leave for 24/48 hours.

For the turkey, sit your brined turkey on a roasting tray over the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. If desired layer or lattice rashers of bacon over the breast to protect in the oven. Take the legs out of the fridge, place in a roasting tray, baste with goose fat, dress with thyme, and a halved bulb of garlic.

Roast the turkey for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees centigrade and roast for a further 2 ½-3 hours until cooked, basting every 30 minutes, and covering it with foil once it’s golden brown, to prevent over-colouring. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 1 to 1 and a half hours in a warm place.

For the stuffing, pre-heat the oven to 130 degrees centigrade. Cook the cabbage in salted water, drain and run under cold water. Mix up all of the stuffing ingredients together and season. Line an oven proof terrine dish with 2 layers of cling film leaving enough to completely cover the cabbage. Cover the base and sides of the oven proof dish with the cabbage leaves. Arrange the sausage meat over the cabbage, around half way up and press down. Finely chop some of the cabbage and layer in the middle of the meat. Layer on the remaining sausage meat and finish with a final layer of the cabbage. Cover tightly with the cling film and put it into the oven 40-50 minutes. Remove it from the oven, the cabbage should be tender and allow it to cool. Carefully turn out the parcel and remove the cling film. Slice it into wedges and serve it.

For the gravy, from the turkey roasting tin, strain the juices and reserve for later, leave the onion, carrot celery garlic and a little fat and juice in the pan. Heat over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of flour and mix with the fat in the pan. When the flour and juices have combined add the large glass of port and mix well. Add the reserved juices from the turkey, stir then add a pint of chicken or turkey stock. Reduce by about half.