About this recipe:I will be cooking my 34th Christmas dinner this year. This is how I cook my 20 to 24 lb, free range, home-reared, 10 day hung turkey. It will not be dry and miserable, it will be juicy and gorgeous!
Whack the oven on 250 C / Gas 9 or as hot as it will go. Put one of the shelves at the near-bottom of the oven. Take all the giblets and wash thoroughly. Put these in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, season with salt and simmer covered, on the hob until the turkey is cooked. Top up water if necessary.
Wash the turkey inside and out. Dry carefully put on the worktop with the breast downwards. Pack the sausagemeat against the rib-cage just above the breast meat. Do NOT fill the cavity or it will never cook through.
Using a suitable roasting tray, put the turkey (still breast side down) onto a rack. Loosely cover the top with a layer of foil. Slide the bird carefully into the oven.
After 45 minutes, reduce the heat to 170 or 180 C / Gas 3 or 4, leave the bird in there for 3 hours 30 for the smaller up to 5 hours for the larger bird.
You don't need to baste. The fat in the sausage meat will baste the breast from the inside and all that juicy wetness will go not into the back of the bird, which you don't really care about, coz there's not much of it, but into the delicious white breast meat.
Test with either a meat thermometer (the best option - they're quite cheap!) or pierce the thickest part of the breast and inside the thigh joint. It's cooked when it's at 76 degrees C in BOTH places or when the juices released are clear.
Once you're happy it's done, remove the foil and give it 10 - 15 minutes in the oven to brown.
Move the bird out of the oven and into somewhere warm-ish. Leave it breast down! Rest for about 45 to 60 minutes while you make the gravy using the juices in the bottom of the roasting tin mixed with the gorgeous stock from the giblets. I use Bisto Original Powder to thicken, but use flour if you want to. I eat the neck meat myself because it's really nice. The dogs get the gizzard and the liver is mashed up with a fork and added to the gravy once it's thickened.
To serve NOW turn the bird breast-side up. All the juices will be re-absorbed into the breast meat. So remove one leg and set aside. Cut along the breast bone to the rib cage. Cut or tear the meat from one side and slice from outside to inside enough for the hungry hoards. Repeat for the other side. Remove all the sausage meat from inside the cavity.
Dark meat makes the best curry - so give the breast to your guests with just a little of the thigh meat and a small amount of sausage meat. Add some of your cooked-separately sage and onion 'stuffing' which is the best way to do it!
Serve and absorb the extravagant, heartfelt and grateful praise for a job well done!
A bird is built to stand breast down. The breast is the part you want to keep moist. This method will do that better than any clever cheffy rubbish!!!!