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Classic brined roast turkey

Christmas Classics with Emma Knowles

By Emma Knowles
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 5 mins cooking plus brining, resting
  • Serves 8
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Classic brined roast turkey
You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead. Check out our <a href="/christmas-mains-sides-drinks-and-dips.htm">classic Christmas recipes slideshow</a> for more ideas.


  • 3.3 kg turkey
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 100 gm soft butter
  • 500 gm (2 cups) dry white wine
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) verjuice
  • 300 ml chicken stock
  • 580 gm (2 cups) sea salt
  • 440 gm (2 cups) white sugar
  • 1 bunch each thyme and oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Sage and lemon stuffing
  • 200 gm fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 100 gm soft butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup finely chopped sage
  • ¼ cup thyme leaves
  • 60 gm dried sour cherries
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed


  • 1
    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. Strain and cool.
  • 2
    Remove neck and giblets from turkey (discard). Rinse bird inside and out, pat dry with absorbent paper, then submerge in brine and weight down, with a plate if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Four to five hours before cooking, remove turkey from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry with absorbent paper.
  • 3
    For stuffing, combine ingredients, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mix to combine with your hands. Spoon stuffing into cavity, truss legs with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under backbone.
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter onion wedges over base of roasting pan, place turkey on top, rub all over with butter and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a piece of foil over breasts, add wine, half the verjuice and half the wine to pan and roast, removing foil and basting frequently, for 1 hour 20 minutes. Add water to pan if necessary to prevent scorching. Remove foil and cook, basting frequently, until golden brown, juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a skewer and internal temperature of thigh read 80C when tested with a meat thermometer (20-30 minutes).
  • 5
    Remove turkey and onions from pan, cover turkey loosely with foil to keep warm and rest for 10 minutes. Place pan over medium heat, add remaining verjuice and stir to deglaze pan, then add remaining stock and simmer over medium heat until reduced to a rich sauce (10-15 minutes). Season to taste. To serve, carve turkey and serve with pan juices spooned over.


Note The cooking times given will result in a well-done bird and is based on 35 minutes/kg, plus 15 minutes extra. If you prefer a juicier breast (where the leg may need additional cooking), allow 30 minutes/kg. The resting period is important when cooking turkey and should never be omitted.