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Roasted Turkey Crown with Cranberry by Sophie Wright

  • 1x4-5 kg RSPCA Assured turkey
  • 100g butter
  • 16 rashers of RSPCA Assured streaky bacon
  • Salt and Fairtrade pepper

For the stuffing

  • 300g RSPCA Assured sausage meat
  • 125g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 125g cooked chestnuts
  • 125g dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
  • Grated Fairtrade nutmeg – 10-12 ‘rasps’
  • Salt and Fairtrade pepper

For the gravy:

  • 1 bottle of red or white Fairtrade wine
  • A slug of port (optional)
  • 1 tsp of Marmite or other concentrated meat or vegetable extract
  • 1 large tbsp of redcurrant jelly


  • Do as much as you can the day before, especially the butchery.


‟I would never roast a bird of this size whole – I always remove the legs, stuff them with delicious homemade stuffing, then roll them tightly in foil before slow roasting them. The crown then follows the legs into the oven covered with huge amounts of streaky bacon. Here is my step by step guide to the perfect Christmas Turkey. May you never eat dry Turkey again!” Sophie Wright


Christmas Eve

  • Remove the bird from the fridge and place onto a large chopping board.
  • Remove the giblets. Place in a large saucepan, cover with water and any herbs you have to hand and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 2-3 hours, skimming any scum that comes to the surface. Top up with water when needed. This will form the base of your gravy. Set aside in the fridge when cooled
  • Now make your stuffing. In a food processor, add the cooked and peeled chestnuts and dried cranberries. Pulse to a rough paste. 
  • Mix in all the other stuffing ingredients, until well combined. Set aside in the fridge.

For the butchery

  • You may want to ask your butcher to do this for you, but I say have a go! Using a sharp, boning knife, with the turkey sat with its legs towards you, make an incision between the thigh and the body of the bird.
  • Follow the cut round until you reach the back of the bird. Repeat the process on the other leg.
  • Turn the turkey over so it is resting on its breast. One at a time, pull the leg backwards, dislocating the ball and socket joint that holds the hip to the carcass. Use your knife to cut through the remaining flesh attaching the thigh to the body, making sure to keep the knife as close to the bone on the carcass as possible, minimising waste. Detach the leg completely before starting work on the second leg.
  • Once both legs are removed, get rid of the now exposed back bone from the body, leaving a proud crown. You can either do this with poultry scissors or with a large sharp knife. You could put the discarded back bone into the stock pot along with the giblets for extra flavour.
  • Now get to work on the boning and rolling of the turkey legs.
  • Remove the scaly looking ankle part of the leg and throw into the stock pot. Make an incision, using a very sharp small knife, from the drum stick, all the way up to the thigh and expose the bone.
  • Using your knife, gently cut the bone away from the meat, trying to take all the sinew and hard cartilage with it.
  • Slip your knife under the now exposed bone and detach the bone from the meat. Once the bone is detached, you may have to be a little patient and precise trying to remove the ball and socket knee joint from the flesh, as there is less meat on this part of the bird.
  • Take your time and it will eventually come away. Try to avoid leaving a huge hole behind you where the knee once was. Repeat the process with the other leg.
  • Lay a leg on some cling film and lay another layer of cling film over the top. Using a meat bat or rolling pin, gently bash the meat until it is all one thickness and nicely tenderised. Repeat with the second leg.
  • Lay out two large sheets of foil and top them with the same amount of non stick parchment paper. Butter the parchment generously before laying on the turkey legs, skin side down.
  • Roll the stuffing into two sausage shapes. Lay the stuffing into the middle of your prepared legs, where the bone once was.
  • Roll the legs into a cylinder, as tightly as you can, making sure that the two edges meet at the seal. Wrap tightly in the parchment, followed by the foil and secure the end like a Christmas cracker. They are now oven ready.
  • If you have stuffing left over, this can be rolled into little balls and cooked separately or popped into the neck cavity of the crown to cook. 

Christmas Day

  • Remove the turkey crown and legs from the fridge, one hour before you need to cook them, to allow them to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C / Fan oven 200°C / Gas mark 7.
  • Smother the skin of your turkey with butter. Cover liberally with streaky bacon.
  • Place the turkey crown on the middle oven shelf and the legs on the lower shelf and blast for 30 minutes until the bacon on the bird is really crispy. It will probably fall off at this stage, which is fine as it allows the skin on the bird to turn a beautiful golden brown and leaves you with lovely crispy bacon. Remove the bacon. (You could use it chopped up in your sprouts with chestnuts).
  • Turn the oven down to, 180°C, fan oven 160°C, Gas Mark 4, baste the crown with the now melted butter and bacon fat and place back in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes per kilo, or until the juices run clear.
  • The leg rolls will take about 1 to 1.5 hours. The best way to tell if they are cooked is with a temperature probe, which should reach over 72° C, or by inserting a metal skewer into the centre of the rolls.
  • If the metal skewer comes out so hot that you can’t touch it on your lower lip, then the meat will be cooked through and the juices will run clear.
  • Remove the turkey crown and legs from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest – they will sit happily whilst you finish off the gravy and vegetables and roast your potatoes.

For the gravy

  • While the turkey is cooking, take yesterday's stock and add a whole bottle of red or white wine. Turn the heat to a simmer and reduce by half.
  • At this stage, I like to add a little port, for sweetness. Add 1 tsp of marmite or other concentrated meat or vegetable extract, along with 1 large tbsp of redcurrant jelly.
  • Reduce again. Don’t forget to add all those lovely meat juices that will have run out of the turkey, just before you serve.
  • Once all your trimmings are ready you can carve. To carve the legs, remove all the foil and parchment using scissors. Slice the rolls into 1cm slices and serve with slices of turkey crown.


Eat Less, Eat Better

If you're trying to cut down on the amount of meat, fish, eggs and dairy in your diet, you might like to download our Eat Less, Eat Better food planner. It's completely free and contains 14 higher welfare recipes.  

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