Prue Leith’s classic roast turkey with a choice of stuffings

Remove the turkey from the fridge 30 minutes ahead of preparing. The sausage meat stuffing can be made the night before and kept separate from the turkey. I like to make a double quantity and use half for stuffing balls to bake separately. You can never have too much leftover stuffing.

prue leith turkey
Chris Alack

SERVES 8 – WITH LOVELY LEFTOVERS

1 x 4.5kg (10lb) turkey

YOU WILL NEED

large square of fine muslin for roasting the turkey, see method and my tip below

FOR THE HERB AND ONION STUFFING

110g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
300g fresh white breadcrumbs
50g bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
140ml milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUSAGE AND CHESTNUT STUFFING

30g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
900g sausage meat
2 x 180g packets of peeled chestnuts, chopped
225g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tsp sage, chopped
4 tbsp parsley, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE ROAST

100g butter
giblets from the turkey
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
a few parsley stalks
250ml water

FOR THE GRAVY 

1 tbsp plain flour
250ml turkey stock

1.  Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

2. Remove the giblets from the turkey and set to one side.

3. To make the herb and onion stuffing for the cavity, melt the butter, add the onion and cook until soft but not coloured. Stir in the breadcrumbs, parsley, thyme and milk. Season well and stuff into the cavity of the turkey.

4. To make the sausage and chestnut stuffing, melt the butter, add the onion and cook until soft but not coloured. When cold, mix with all the other stuffing ingredients and season well with salt and pepper. Split the mix in two and stuff half into the neck end of the turkey, making sure the breast is well plumped with stuffing. Draw the skin flaps down to cover the stuffing and secure with a skewer. The other half can be baked in balls separately.

5. For the roast, melt the butter and soak the muslin square, absorbing all the butter into it.

6. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Place in a large roasting pan with the giblets (except for the liver) and the neck. Add the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and parsley stalks then pour in the water. Completely cover the bird with the buttered muslin doubled over and roast for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and roast for a further 2 hours and 40 minutes.

7. When the turkey is cooked, a skewer will glide through the thigh easily and the juices should run clear. Remove the muslin and lift the bird on to a serving dish. Cover loosely with foil and keep somewhere warm while making the gravy.

8. Lift the roasting pan with its juices on to the hob. Skim off as much fat as possible. Add the flour and whisk over the heat for 1 minute. Add the stock and stir until the gravy boils. Simmer for 3 minutes, check seasoning and strain into a warm gravy boat before serving.

PRUE’S TIP Using butter-soaked muslin eliminates the need for basting. If you don’t have a piece of muslin, you can use a new blue J Cloth (not a pink one – the dye will run). Pour a kettle or boiling water over it to get rid of the starchy dressing. Then squeeze out and dry.

EXTRA GRAVY If you’d like more, feel free to double the quantities.

Buy Prue’s book with 20% off

prue leith recipesPrue: My All-time Favourite Recipes is published by Bluebird, price £25. To order a copy for £20 until 1 December with free p&p, visit mailshop.co.uk or call 01603 648155. 

Recipe: Prue Leith. Food styling: Clare Lewis. Styling: Sue Radcliffe