Roast Bronze Free-range Turkey with Traditional Pork, Sage and Onion Stuffing
Even if you've never cooked a turkey in your life, it's easy as long as you follow Delia's recipe to the letter…
This recipe is from Delia's Complete Christmas Magazine 2004 Serves 8 (with plenty left over)
To stuff the turkey, loosen the skin with your hands and pack as much of the stuffing into the neck end as you can, pushing it up between the flesh and the skin towards the breast – but not too tightly as it will expand during the cooking.
Press it gently to make a nicely rounded end, then tuck the neck flap under the bird’s back and secure with a small skewer. Any leftover stuffing can go into the body cavity of the turkey.
Next, arrange 2 large sheets of foil across your roasting tin, one widthways and the other lengthways (no need to butter them), then lay the turkey on its back in the centre and rub it generously all over with the butter, making sure the thighs are particularly well covered.
Season well with salt and pepper, and lay the bacon over the breast with the rashers overlapping each other.
Now wrap the turkey loosely in the foil: the parcel must be firmly sealed but roomy enough to provide an air space around most of the upper part of the bird.
So bring one piece up and fold both ends over to make a pleat along the breastbone. Then bring the other piece up at both ends and crimp and fold to make a parcel.
Place the roasting tin on a low shelf in the oven and cook at the initial high temperature for 40 minutes.
After that, lower the heat to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and cook for a further 3 hours for a 12 lb bird (around 5.5 kg), or 3½ hours for a 14 lb bird (around 6.3 kg).
Then tear the foil away from the top and sides of the bird and remove the bacon slices to allow the skin to brown and crisp. The bacon rashers can be placed on a heat-proof plate and put back in the oven to finish cooking till all the fat has melted and there are just very crisp bits left.
(I like to serve these crunchy bits with the turkey as well as bacon rolls.)
Turn the heat up to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) and cook the turkey for a further 30 minutes.
The turkey will need frequent basting during this time, so the whole operation will probably take nearer 40-45 minutes.
To test if the bird is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the leg with a thin skewer: the juices running out of it should be golden and clear. And the same applies to any part of the bird tested – there should be no trace of pinkness in the juices. You can also give the leg a little tug, to make sure there is some give in it.
Then remove it from the roasting tin (using a carving fork and fish slice) and transfer it to a warm carving dish. If you can engage someone's help while lifting it, it's a good idea to tip the turkey to let the excess juice run out.
Leave the turkey in a warmish place for 30-60 minutes to 'relax' before carving: provided it's not in a draught it will stay hot for that length of time, and it will give you a chance to turn the heat up in the oven to crisp the roast potatoes.