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Classic Roast Turkey

  • 45 minutes
  • 4½ hours
  • 8
Classic Roast Turkey

The thought of roasting such a large bird can be off-putting, especially for novice cooks, but fear not. This step-by-step basic recipe will show you how to easily achieve a classic feastive roast.


  • 4 kilogram turkey, defrosted
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4-5 rashers rindless bacon, diced
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped or torn fresh bread
  • 5-6 sundried tomatoes in oil, well drained, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon best blend dried mixed herbs (see below)
  • 50 grams chilled butter, finely chopped or grated
  • Gravy
  • 3 tablespoons fat from roasting turkey
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1½ cups chicken stock
  • Best blend dried herbs
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the oven rack in the lower section of the oven but not the bottom rung unless the oven is very small. Place a cake rack into a large metal roasting dish.
  2. Heat a dash of oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and bacon for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Remove from the heat, toss through the breadcrumbs, sundried toamtoes, herbs and grated butter. Season with salt and pepper; cover and set aside to cool.
  4. Wash turkey; pat the cavity dry using paper towels.
  5. Fill the cavity with the stuffing. Tie the legs together and twist the wings under the body to ensure it keeps a good shape and prevent the wing tips from burning.
  6. Weigh the turkey to calculate the cooking time later. Spread a little extra butter on top of the turkey and season with salt and ground black pepper.
  7. Place the turkey on the prepared rack and pour 1 cup of water into the dish below.
  8. Roast in the preheated oven allowing 30 minutes per 500 grams. A 4 kilogram turkey with 400 grams stuffing will take 4½ hours to cook. Cover with foil if the turkey begins to brown too much.
  9. Remove from the oven, cover and rest for 15 minutes before carving.
  10. Drain cooking juices from the roasting pan. Skim off the fat and return 3 tablespoons fat to the roasting pan (or use butter). Place over a low heat. Add 2 tablespoons flour to the pan and stir for 1-2 minutes until frothy. Make the cooking juices up to 1½ cups with chicken stock and gradually stir into the pan. Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. Stir the sediment from the bottom of the pan into the gravy. Season with salt and pepper if wished.
  11. Best blend dried herbs
  12. Place all the ingredients into a screw to jar and shake well to combine.

Cooks Tips

- If you are buying your turkey fresh, take it straight home and keep it in the coldest part of the fridge. Do not buy a fresh turkey more than 2 days in advance of cooking. - If frozen, read the defrosting instructions first. Depending on size, it can take 3-4 days to defrost a turkey in the fridge. Do not defrost at room temperature. - To ensure the turkey keeps a good shape at the neck end, fill the cavity with roughly torn bread, or half an apple. Place rashers of steaky bacon on top of the breast part of the turkey to keep it moist. Remove these in the last half hour of cooking to brown and crispen the breast skin. - If using a roasting bag, check the back of the turkey bag for bag roasting times. Normally it is about 5 minutes less per 500 grams. If you cook the turkey in a bag, remember to remove it from the bag and return it to the oven about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time to allow it to brown. Remember to keep al the juices for the gravy. - Stuffing will add great flavour and variation to your roast turkey as well as helping the turkey to keep a good shape. Stuff the turkey just before cooking. If you do not want to make stuffing, place a whole apple inside to help the bird keep its shape. You will need around 3-4 cups of stuffing for a 2.5-4.5 kilogram bird. Above that, allow 5-6 cups of stuffing. Any leftover stuffing can be used to fill the neck end in place of sausage meat. - Forcemeat is the stuffing that is placed at the neck end of turkey. For ease, buy very flavoursome savoury sausages, squeeze out the meat and then stuff in the turkey. Alternatively, roll the meat into balls, pan-fry and serve alongside the turkey. - To carve a turkey, use a sharp carving knife and cut off the leg and thigh portions first. Set these aside to be sliced up. It will then be easier to carve the breast meat. - Sizes and servings of whole turkey onthe bone (unstuffed) 3.5-4 kg serves 6-8 people 5 kg serves 10-11 people 6 kg serves 12-13 people

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