Roast turkey

Serves 8-10

This recipe involves taking the legs off first and stuffing them and cooking the bird in different stages to get the best results. Years ago, when I used to work at The Dorchester under Anton Mosimann, our turkey would be prepared in this way. I've never looked back, and since then have dreamt up all sorts of stuffing combos for the legs. I always cut the backbone out, which has virtually no meat on it anyway (except for the oysters) and use that and the leg bones for gravy which I make in advance to save time on the day.

I've opted for a simple onion and thyme stuffing here for the legs but you may wish to do another separate sausage-meat stuffing. You can quite easily bone the legs yourself with a sharp knife or just get your butcher to do it.

1 medium turkey weighing about 4-6kg
Butter for basting
100g caul fat (optional)

For the leg stuffing

2 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
2tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
A couple of good knobs of butter
500g minced pork or chicken
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bone your turkey legs by running the point of a sharp knife along the bone and working it around the bone to release all the flesh. Remove any visible tendons in the drumstick and lay it on a tray, then repeat with the other leg. If you have a friendly butcher, ask him to do this. Put the legs to one side for the gravy.

To make the stuffing, gently cook the onions and thyme in the butter for 2-3 minutes to soften, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Mix the onions with the pork and breadcrumbs and season. Divide the mixture between the two legs, then roll them up as tightly as possible. Roll the legs in several layers of clingfilm and twist the ends tightly to make a perfect cylinder. Place the legs in a large saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to cool, then remove from the water and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours. Wrap the legs in a couple of layers of caul fat then tie with string at every 3cm; if you don't have caul fat then just tie with string. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

With a heavy chopping knife, cut away the back bone from the base of the turkey as this hasn't any meat on it and chop it into small pieces with the bones from the legs and keep aside for making the gravy.

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.

Season the breasts and rub with some butter and place in a tray with the legs and cook for about 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C/gas mark 5 and cook for a further 30-45 minutes, basting every so often. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the stuffed leg and the thickest part of the breast; if it's hot, it's cooked. To serve, remove the breasts from the carcass, slice them into cm slices at an angle and arrange on a warmed serving dish. Slice the stuffed legs into 1cm slices and arrange on the dish.

Next week: the perfect roast accompaniments

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