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Classic roast turkey

You'll need

1 4kg turkey 2 onions, cut into wedges 100 gm butter, softened 100 gm butter, softened 500 ml (2 cups) dry white wine 80 ml (1/3 cup) verjuice 300 ml chicken stock To serve: roast pumpkin and boiled peas   Brine 440 gm (2 cups) white sugar 500 gm (2 cups) fine sea salt 1 bunch each of thyme and sage 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper   Sage and lemon stuffing 200 gm fresh sourdough breadcrumbs 2 eggs, lightly beaten ½ cup finely chopped sage leaves 60 gm dried cranberries 2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind 2 cloves of garlic, crushed


  • 01
  • For brine, combine ingredients and 8 litres of water in a large stockpot, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat, then strain, discarding solids, and cool.
  • 02
  • Submerge turkey in brine, use a large heavy plate to weight down and refrigerate for at least 24 hours (see note). Five hours before cooking, remove turkey from brine, rinse under cold running water and pat dry with absorbent paper.
  • 03
  • For sage and lemon stuffing, combine ingredients, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then, using your hands, mix to combine. Spoon stuffing into turkey cavity, truss legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under backbone.
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter onion wedges over base of roasting pan, place turkey on top, rub with butter and season to taste. Add wine to pan, cover breasts with foil and roast, basting frequently (including breasts), for 1 hour. Add water to pan, if necessary, to prevent scorching. Remove foil and cook until golden brown and just cooked through (45 minutes for cooked breast and just cooked thigh to 1 hour for well-done breast and thigh).
  • 05
  • Remove turkey and onion from pan, cover loosely with foil to keep warm and rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place pan over medium heat, add verjuice and stir to deglaze pan, then add stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes over medium heat or until sauce has reduced and is rich, season to taste and strain into a serving jug. Carve turkey and serve with onion, pan juices, roast pumpkin and peas.
Note The turkey is brined to maintain moisture during cooking. The resting period is important when cooking turkey and should never be omitted.

Traditionally, the breasts were carved from the roast turkey at the table and served hot, while the remainder was returned to the kitchen, where the leg meat was used in a ‘gentleman’s supper’, which is, really, a nice way to phrase ‘leftovers’. Here’s a recipe for the classic roast turkey, and some of the following ones show you ways to put leftovers to good use. You will need to begin this recipe 1½ days ahead.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

The best well-cellared shiraz you can afford.

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