Classical Christmas Recipe

Serves 8

1 x 6 kg turkey, plus the neck from the giblets if available
105 ml vegetable oil
Watercress, to garnish

1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
30 g plain flour
500 ml chicken stock


600 ml milk
½ onion, studded with 3-4 cloves
1 bouquet garni
2 cloves garlic, peel and lightly bruised
105 g fresh white breadcrumbs
Grated fresh nutmeg
2 ½ tablespoons cream or 45 g unsalted butter optional

1. Clean the turkey inside and out, removing any feathers. With a sharp knife, cut off and reserve the end wing joints. Lift up the flap of skin at the neck and, using a small sharp knife, scrape the meat away from the wishbone and remove the wishbone. Tie the legs together with string. Preheat the oven to moderate 180 degree C.

2. Place a large roasting pan over medium heat and heat the oil. Add the end wing joints and neck and cook until lightly browned, then arrange the turkey on top and bake for 1 ½-2 hours, basting with the juice and oil every 20 minutes. If the turkey is begins to overbrown, cover with foil. The turkey is cooked if the juices run clear when you pierce a leg and thigh with a skewer. If pink, continue roasting until the juices are clear. Transfer the turkey to a large plate and leave in warm place.

3. To make the gravy, tip off the excess fat from the pan, retaining about a tablespoon with all the juices. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Sprinkle on the flour, then stir in to mix evenly and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock gradually and stir over low heat to produce a smooth texture. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, skim off the excess fat and season with some salt and black pepper.

4. To make the bread sauce, pour the milk into a small pan, add the onion, bouquet garni and garlic and bring slowly just to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 20-30 minutes. Strain and discard the flavourings, then return the milk to the pan and bring to the boil. Whisk in the breadcrumbs to produce a thick sauce and season with the nutmeg and some salt and black pepper. Stir in the cream or butter. Serve immediately, as the sauce will thicken on standing.

5. To serve the turkey, carving the turkey carefully will allow everyone a good choice of white and dark meat. Serve with the bread sauce, gravy, stuffing and other traditional accompaniments.

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