Recipe: Nigella Lawson's super-juicy roast turkey
- 6 litres water, approx.
- 1 x 250g packet Maldon salt/125g table salt
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 bouquet garni
- 2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
- 200g caster sugar
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 1 x 6cm piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 4 cloves
- 2 tablespoons allspice berries
- 4 star anise
- 1 orange, quartered
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons runny honey
- Stalks from a medium bunch of parsley, optional
FOR THE BASTING
- 75g butter or goose fat
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 Put the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the other brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck the pieces in.)
2 Untie and remove any string or trussing from the turkey, shake it free, remove the giblets and put in the fridge, and add the bird to the liquid, topping up with more water if it is not completely submerged. Keep in a cold place, even outside, overnight or for up to a day or two before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid and wipe dry with kitchen towel, a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys – indeed this is the case for all meat – should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you’re at all concerned – the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird – then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires. I think it’s virtually impossible to dry this one out.
3 For the basting, melt the butter and syrup together slowly over a low heat. Paint the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout.
4 And as for the roasting time, just preheat the oven to gas mark 7/220°C and give the bird half an hour’s roasting at this relatively high temperature, then turn the over down to gas mark 4/180°C and continue cooking, turning the oven back up to gas mark 7/220°C for the last quarter of an hour if you want to give it a final, browning boost.
5 For a 4-5kg turkey, I’d reckon on about 2 – 2 ½ hours in total. But remember that ovens vary enormously, so just check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey’s cooked.
6 Just as it’s crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it’s important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it. Tent it with foil, and even longer won’t hurt it.
TURKEY COOKING TIMES
Weight of bird Cooking Time
2/25kg/5lb 1 ½ hours
3.5kg/8lb 1 ¾ hours
4.5kg/10lb 2 hours
5.5kg/12lb 2 ½ hours
6.75kg/15lb 2 ¾ hours
7.5kg/17lb 3 hours
9kg/20lb 3 ½ hours
11.5kg/25lb 4 ½ hours
For more recipes from the Domestic Goddess, check out Nigella Lawson recipes.
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Excerpted from Feast by Nigella Lawson Copyright © 2004 by Nigella Lawson. Photographs copyright © 2004 by James Merrell. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.