How to Roast a Turkey

The Twelve Recipes of Christmas

One the fifth day of Christmas, my true Love Food gave to me…

…a terrifically simple recipe for roast turkey for the coming New Year’s Eve celebrations!

Dawn: And there’s five rings of truth in that statement…get it, Andrew?

Andrew: Indeedy, I do! So what are we doing this year with the turkey, Dawn?

Dawn: Sitting comfortably?

Andrew: Yep!

Dawn: Then I’ll begin!



1 turkey (size dependent upon how may people you wish to feed)

1 pack of streaky bacon (unsmoked)

A knob of butter

Salt and pepper to season


  • First, remove any packaging that the turkey may be wrapped in.

Dawn: This seems obvious but there’s a reason to highlight this. Do not wash the turkey but instead, turn it upside down on a large piece of baking foil.

  • Preheat the oven gas mark 6/200º C.
  • Next, take some of your prepared stuffing and place in the neck cavity of the turkey being mindful not to cram it too much that there’s no space for it to breath.IMG_3316
  • Once the stuffing is inside the turkey, turn the turkey the other way up so that the breasts side is facing you. Carefully lift the turkey in the foil and place in a large enough baking tin leaving the foil draped either side.
  • Taking the knob of butter, spread this across the breast side of the turkey.
  • On top of the butter, carefully place strips of the bacon making sure the majority of the turkey’s flesh is covered.IMG_3337

Andrew: The butter and bacon ensures the turkey meat doesn’t become dry in the long cooking process.

Dawn: Yes, they do and with any leftover stuffing mix, simply divide the mixture equally and form into balls. Place in the baking tin alongside the turkey.

  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • With the baking foil that’s draped either side of the baking tin, gather the foil to create a small tent-like construction so that air can circulate in the cooking process.
  • Place in oven and allow to cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the heat to gas mark 3/160º C and roast until cooked.

Andrew: Remember to keep basting the turkey throughout the roasting time.

  • Remove the turkey from the oven. Test the juices! Skewer the breast, thighs and lower body. This is ABSOLUTELY essential. The juices should run clear.
  • For each 1lb/500g the turkey weighs, add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time.
  • If the juices are not clear, return the turkey to the oven.
  • For the last 15-20 minutes of roasting, remove the foil to crisp the skin.
  • Leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Dawn: The turkey was introduced into Britain in the 16th century but it was the Victorian period that roast turkey really became so popular as a main Christmas Day course.

Andrew: Yes, that’s true, Dawn and another popular method at the time to retain the meat’s moisture through the cooking process was to use butter and honey, melted and then poured over the turkey creating a honey-roasted turkey for dinner.

Dawn: Delicious! And speaking of delicious, I have a Cook’s Cheat Idea here for pigs in blankets. Buy your favourite sausages and streaky bacon. The day before, simply take each individual sausage and wrap with the streaky bacon. Then simply chop up to the required length and add to the turkey just before you pop it in the oven.

Andrew: Great idea, Dawn!

For more in this series of festively inspired food ideas, then follow this blog here and keep up-to-date on Twitter. Facebook and Mumsnet are websites you’ll find us on, too – so keep looking for tasty recipes coming!

Gorgeous Giblet Gravy

Dawn: If you only make real gravy once a year, this is your chance. It exploits all the flavours of the meal and although it is a labour of love, it is worth every minute of the effort. 

Andrew: It does need you to have turkey giblets from your butcher to follow each step.

Dawn: If you have a frozen turkey, or you can’t obtain giblets, turkey stock, or a good chicken stock, are available as an alternative. 

Andrew: Lets start with the giblet stock.

Ingredients – Christmas Eve

Turkey giblets including the neck and liver

One onion,  sliced in half

One carrot, sliced in half lengthwise

Celery stalk

A few peppercorns

One bayleaf

Method – Christmas Eve

  • Wash the giblets, place in a saucepan with the onion, add water to cover and bring the pan to a simmer.
  • Remove any scum with a slotted spoon, then add rest of ingredients.
  • Cover with a lid and simmer for up to 2 hours.
  • Strain the stock, discarding the giblets and vegetables, and when cooled cover and keep in the fridge.

Andrew: Another case of great Christmas aromas!

Dawn: And no waste either. People used to give the cooked giblets to the cat or dog, but that isn’t advisable now.

Andrew: Yes Dawn, even our furry friends have to watch what they eat now. 

Dawn: Let’s move on 24 hours shall we!

Ingredients – Christmas Day

Giblet stock

Juices from the turkey

2 tbsp plain flour

Method – Christmas Day

  • Once the turkey is cooked and lifted from the roasting tin, spoon off any excess fat and dispose of this properly.
  • Place the roasting tin on a low heat on the hob, and gradually add the flour, mixing with a balloon whisk to avoid lumps.
  • Gently heat the giblet stock in a separate sauce pan.
  • Gradually add the stock to the turkey juices, mixing constantly until you have a smooth gravy to the consistency you like.
  • Season to taste.
  • Transfer to a jug or gravy boat and cover until required.

Andrew: Fabulous! The perfect accompaniment, and nothing wasted or unnatural. 

Dawn: Keep following the blog and Twitter feed @Love_Food_UK for Christmas updates.

Traditional Roast Turkey


Dawn: Christmas Dinner! Don’t you just love it!?!

Andrew: Absolutely! The most important meal of the year, isn’t it Dawn?

Dawn: It is, but there are so many horror stories about the whole thing,

Andrew: What a shame that is. However, I believe that there is too much panic about Christmas Dinner. Turkey is delicious, low in fat, wonderful in flavour and equally tasty hot or cold.

Dawn: Do you prefer fresh or frozen, Andrew?

Andrew: I do prefer fresh. I go to the same butcher each year. He buys the entire stock from a farm in Norfolk, and has done since 1972! I know that my turkey this year has been organically fed and running around happily until a couple of weeks ago. I do know that some people will buy a frozen one. My parents do. Frozen turkeys can be just as tasty and flavoursome as a fresh one. It’s just a matter of following a few simple steps and having a bit of patience.

Dawn: Sage advice! If you have a frozen turkey, you must defrost it thoroughly for at least 24 hours before you cook it. You must make sure you have no ice crystals left at all, otherwise you are asking for a dose of food poisoning.

Andrew: And equally, don’t keep a turkey, fresh or defrosted, in a warm environment before it is cooked. It’s best to place it in a shed, or an unheated room before cooking. 

Dawn: Away from prowling felines! There are a lot of suggestions about turkey. What do you think?

Andrew: There are suggestions you should soak it in brine, in cola, in water. I have done this for years, and it has never let me down.

Dawn: Fire away!


1 x 14lb (6.5kg) turkey

6oz (175g) of butter

8oz (225g) of streaky bacon

Salt and frshly milled black pepper

Stuffing as required

1 red onion

1 orange or clementine


  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220º C.
  • Arrange two large sheets of foil in a roasting pan. One lengthways, the other widthways. Ensure these are long enough to make a ‘tent’ over the turkey.
  • Stuff the turkey breast with stuffing of your choice, if using. Fold over the neck skin underneath,
  • Rub the butter generously into the turkey, paying particular attention to the legs and thighs. It seems very fatty, but this is essential to stop the turkey drying out.
  • Lay overlapping layers of streaky bacon over the turkey breast and season with salt and pepper.
  • If you wish, for extra flavour, place a red onion, or a clementine, or an orange, possible studded with cloves, into the body cavity. I never stuff the cavity – it adds to the cooking time.
  • Fold the foil over the bird, allowing an air space around the bird.
  • Place the turkey in the oven and cook on this high temperature for 40 minutes.
  • After this time, turn the oven down to gas mark 3/170°C electric.

Dawn: And now I can relax, can I?

Andrew: Indeed you can! Aside from preparing your vegetables, but we cover that elsewhere!

Dawn: For this weight of turkey, wait about 3 and a half hours more.

  • Remove the turkey from oven, and turn the heat up to gas mark 6/200ºC electric. Fold back the foil from the top of the turkey, take off the bacon slices, and start to baste the turkey, with a long handled spoon or turkey baster.
  • Place the bacon on an ovenproof plate or dish, returning it back to the oven placing it in the bottom. It will crisp up and is delicious as ‘bacon bits’ with the finished dish.
  • Return the turkey to the oven and continue to baste it with the juices over the next half hour or so.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven. Test the juices! Skewer the breast, thighs and lower body. This is ABSOLUTELY essential. The juices should run clear.
  • For each 1lb/500g greater or less than the amount in this recipe, add/subtract 15-20 minutes to the cooking time. If the juices are not clear, return the turkey to the oven.

Dawn: Test to see if the juices are clear by sticking a fork into a plump thigh of the turkey and this with ensure the juices run easily from the bird. If they are clear, pop the turkey back into the oven until they are.

  • When the turkey is fully cooked, remove from the oven, fold the double foil layers over the top, and leave to sit under the foil to settle for 45-60 minutes.

Dawn: This allows the turkey meat to set and solidify. It is much easier to carve at this point.

Andrew: Carving! Now there is a trick! I have a couple of easy options here. Slice off the entire breast. It is easy once the meat has settled.

Dawn: I like some of the leg meat too! This can be cut using a good sharp knife, too. Serve with some of the other amazing recipes on our food blog and remember to follow us on Twitter @Love_Food_UK and here, on the blog, too.