About the Recipe
As our Christmases may be a little smaller this year, we thought we'd treat you to a recipe that can be used on any bird that suits your table this Christmas! Complete with an indulgent tarragon and parsley butter to keep your meat mouthwateringly moist and the star of the show, the pepper jelly stuffing, this festive recipe is sure to impress and is well worth the effort. This recipe is written for a traditional turkey, so may have more flavoured butter than you need for just the birds, but as the butter is so versatile, it will not go to waste and can be used for your roast veggies and other trimmings. And as we all know, there's no such thing as too much gravy!!
For the Bird
1 Festive bird of your choice (this could be a turkey, guinea fowl, goose ... the possibliites are endless).
Small bunch of tarragon
Small bunch of Parsley
12 bacon rashes
1tbsp Olive oil
3 garlic cloves (grated)
1 onion halved
For the Gravy
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 litre dry cider
300ml chicken stock
For the Stuffing
3 sprigs fresh sage
200g ‘Jacobs’ cream crackers
2 tbsp Thyme
2 cloves of garlic
110g Orange and cumin pepper jelly (or pepper jelly of your choice)
115g chopped walnuts (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 20 mins per kilo, plus 90 mins.
Making the stuffing
Use your hands to crush the crackers into pieces around 1cm. Top tip: the texture is much better if the cracker pieces are varying sizes so don’t make them too small.
Finely chop two onions and add to the crackers along with the olive oil, fresh sage, garlic, thyme, pepper jelly, egg and walnuts (if you are using them). Season to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper and combine with your hands. Set aside.
Cooking the turkey
Add the butter, olive oil, tarragon leaves, parsley and garlic to a bowl. Grate the rind of two lemons into the flavoured butter and squeeze in their juice. Combine thoroughly with a spatular
Gently separate the turkey’s skin from the breast with your fingers, working from the cavity end, upwards.
Gently push ⅔ of the flavoured butter under the turkey skin and massage down the bird until it covers the whole breast. (If you need to you can work from both the cavity sides and the neck.) Then slather the final third of the flavoured butter generously over the turkey breast and legs.
Half an onion and put it into the cavity along with the last lemon, an orange and a large sprig of bay. Now pack half the stuffing into the neck end, pushing it towards the breast and secure the neck skin in position with skewers.
Put a large sheet of extra-wide foil in a large roasting tin and put the turkey on top. Grate the nutmeg and season well before covering the breast with the bacon rashes and then loosely bring up the foil, sealing well to make a parcel.
Roast in the oven, then 90 mins before the end of cooking (or 30 mins of you are using a smaller bird), open the foil, set the bacon aside, and drain off excess fat from the tin. (You can save this fat and use it for your baked potatoes, just as you would goose fat).
Now leaving the foil open, return the turkey to the oven to brown, basting with the juices several times.
To test whether the turkey is cooked, push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear. If they are pinkish, cook for 15 mins more, then test again.
Transfer the turkey onto a large plate and allow to rest for at least 30 mins before carving. This gives the juices time to settle back into the meat, ensuring that the turkey will be juicy.
Roll any extra stuffing into balls and put them to roast 40 mins before the turkey has finished. (This is also the perfect time to add pigs in blankets or any roast veggies).
Making the gravy
Heat up the pan with the remaining turkey juices on the hob.
While the turkey is resting, remove the winglets, from the outside of the turkey. Remove the lemon, orange, onion and bay leaves from the cavity of the turkey, chop them into small pieces and add them to the turkey juices along with 3 large sprigs of rosemary. Simmer for 3 minutes before chopping the bacon rashes into small pieces and adding it to the mixture with your tomatoes, dry cider and chicken stock.
Simmer for 7 more minutes, crushing the ingredients to release all of their flavours and stirring them regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn. Then strain the gravy into a gravy boat and discard the rest.
And voila! The perfect Christmas bird!