"Cooking a whole turkey might seem like a daunting task, but there’s no need to worry – choose a good-quality RSPCA Assured turkey, show it a bit of love with some great flavours, follow this recipe to the letter and I guarantee you’ll get great results. I’ve livened things up this year by making a sweet, sticky glaze – it’ll make the turkey dark, caramelised and delicious, and it’ll look amazing in the middle of the table.” Jamie Oliver
- Turn your oven to full whack.
- For tasty gravy, put the garlic, onions, carrots, celery and a splash of cider into a roasting tray that’s slightly bigger than the bird (roughly 32cm x 40cm) – it needs to be fairly snug so the veg doesn’t burn. Put aside.
- Place the cranberries, honey, a pinch of salt and pepper, a splash of olive oil and the cider in a small pan on a medium heat, and cook for around 5 minutes, or until the berries have softened. Leave to cool slightly, then blitz in a food processor (or mash up) with the garlic to make a thick paste. Loosen with a small splash of olive oil, if needed.
- Spoon two-thirds onto the turkey, then use clean hands to spread it all over, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. Reserve the rest to baste the bird with during cooking. Sprinkle over the thyme, then stuff the cavity with the orange and lemon halves.
- Place the turkey on top of the tray of veg, cover with tin foil, then put it in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
- Cook for 35 to 40 minutes per kilo. The 5kg bird in this recipe will take around 3½ hours. Check on the turkey every 30 minutes or so, to make sure it’s browning evenly and to baste it with the remaining glaze. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes, so the skin gets a chance to crisp up.
- When the time is up, stick a knife into the fattest part of the thigh – if the juices run clear and the meat pulls apart easily, it’s done. If you’re worried, use a meat thermometer – the internal temperature should be at least 72°C. Transfer the turkey onto a board, cover with a layer of foil and two clean tea towels, and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- To make the gravy, put the tray of veg and meat juices on the hob over a medium heat, and mash with a potato masher. Mix in the flour to make a paste, then pour in the cider and stock. Continue cooking for around 5 minutes, or until lovely and thick. Season to taste, then strain through a fine sieve into a jug, pushing all that goodness through. Serve with the turkey and all the usual trimmings.
- For beautiful, juicy meat, it’s so important to rest the turkey when it comes out of the oven – this gives the moisture, which has been pushed to the middle of the turkey by the heat of the oven, time to work its way back to where it should be.
Recipe © Jamie Oliver
Photo © Tara Fisher