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Christmas turkey

You'll need

4 kg turkey (see note) 200 gm butter, softened   Brine 220 gm (1 cup) white sugar 1 cup sea salt 1 bunch each of thyme and sage ¼ cup coarsely ground black peppercorns


  • 01
  • For brine, combine ingredients and 4 litres of water in a large stockpot, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and cool.
  • 02
  • Submerge turkey in brine completely; weigh down with a plate. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 2 days. Five hours before cooking, remove turkey from brine and rinse, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat dry with absorbent paper.
  • 03
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Spoon stuffing into cavity, truss legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under backbone.
  • 04
  • Place turkey in a roasting pan, rub all over with butter, putting half of it under the skin of the breast, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a piece of foil over breast and roast, removing foil and basting frequently, for 1½ hours, then remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes for cooked breast and just cooked thigh to 30 minutes for well-done breast and thigh.
  • 05
  • Cover turkey loosely with foil to keep warm and rest for 10 minutes, then carve and serve drizzled with pan juices.
Note The resting period is important when cooking turkey and should never be omitted.

In Australia, turkey is synonymous with Christmas. The secret to a juicy, succulent bird is to brine it before cooking, that is, marinating the bird in a salt and water mixture. This demands a little extra time, but little effort, and is guaranteed to give you great results.

Of course, starting with a good bird is paramount. Find yourself a good free-range turkey and you're halfway there.

Another good tip is to place butter under the skin of the breasts; this protects and bastes the leanest and driest part of the bird.

The great 'ta-dah' moment of every Christmas comes when the turkey is presented at the table with a resplendent golden sheen. Achieving an even golden colouring requires attention and care and that boils down to constant basting to ensure the skin is browned to perfection.

In our book, no turkey is complete without stuffing - it infuses the turkey with flavour from the inside and makes for a tasty side dish, having absorbed the turkey's fragrant juices.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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