Christmas turkey with clementine & bay butter

Christmas turkey with clementine & bay butter

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(2 ratings)

Prep: 25 mins Cook: 3 hrs - 3 hrs, 50 mins Plus 2 days salting

More effort

Serves 8
Using a salt rub on your bird will act like a brine and make it extra succulent - this festive roast is permeated with citrus, thyme and sherry

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal674
  • fat32g
  • saturates13g
  • carbs2g
  • sugars1g
  • fibre0g
  • protein93g
  • salt2g
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  • 5-5½ kg/11-12lb oven-ready turkey, neck and giblets removed and saved



    While it's the traditional Christmas bird, turkey is good to eat all year round, though…

  • 1 onion, halved



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

For the salt mix

  • 5 bay leaves, crumbled if dry, torn if fresh
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaf, plus extra for scattering
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 85g/ 3oz coarse sea salt
  • zest 1 orange, plus extra for scattering



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

For the clementine & bay butter

  • 100g/ 4oz butter, softened



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • zest and juice 1 clementine



    The smallest and sweetest variety of tangerine is sweet and tangy, contains no seeds and is…

  • splash of sherry
  • large thyme sprig, leaves picked


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 2 bay leaves

On-the-day gravy

  • 4 tbsp flour



    Flour is usually made from grinding wheat, maize, rye, barley or rice. As the main…

  • 250ml/ 9fl oz dry sherry


  1. Up to two days before, salt the turkey. If you have a spice grinder or minichopper, tip in all the ingredients for the salt mix and grind to make a wet salt. If you are using a pestle and mortar, grind the herbs and pepper together, then add the salt and orange zest, and grind well again. Set aside. Carefully rinse the turkey and pat dry with kitchen paper. Sit the turkey in its roasting tin and use the salt mix to season the turkey generously all over. Put the turkey breast-side up in the tin, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for up to 2 days. (This can be done a day ahead but the longer you leave it, the more the flavour of the salt rub will permeate the bird.)

  2. To make the clementine & bay butter, mash all the ingredients together in a bowl with some seasoning and set aside. Can be made 2 days ahead or frozen for up to a month.

  3. Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hr before you want to cook it and rinse off all the salt really well. Pat it dry, rinse out the roasting tin, then sit the turkey back in the tin and leave at room temperature for about 1 hr, uncovered.

  4. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Calculate a cooking time of 40 mins per kg for the first 4kg of the turkey, then 45 mins for every kg after that. Rub the turkey all over with most of the butter – no need to season. If you haven’t used the neck for the Make-ahead gravy (see 'goes well with'), then add the neck to the tin with the onion. Cover the tin loosely with foil and roast for the calculated cooking time. For the final 30 mins, remove the foil, baste the turkey, scatter with the reserved thyme and orange zest, and increase the oven temp to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. (Now is the time to pop in the stuffings and roast potatoes, if you are doing them.) When the turkey is beautifully brown and cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to rest on a warm platter covered loosely with foil and a tea towel.

  5. If you've made our Make-ahead gravy (see 'goes well with'), you can add the roasting juices to that. To make your gravy fresh, pour off most of the fat but leave the juices in the tin and put it on a low heat. Stir in the flour to a paste. Pour in the sherry and sizzle for 1 min, then gradually add 850ml water and simmer until you have a thick gravy – make sure to scrape up the sides of the tin to release any bits. Sieve the gravy into a saucepan and reheat to serve – the gravy probably won’t need extra seasoning as the turkey juices will be salty enough.

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Comments, questions and tips

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27th Jan, 2013
Sorry forgot to rate the recipe
27th Jan, 2013
Wow what a fantastic turkey, best I've ever had. Had so many wonderful complements from my 12 guests on xmas day. I think with the combination of a free range bronze turkey from my butcher and following the recipe exactly as it said, made the meat so moist and fllavoursome. I Would highly recommend this recipe and will now only ever cook my turkey this way.
28th Dec, 2012
I wasn't brave enough to brine but I did use the flavoured butter on our turkey crown which was nice but didn't pack the extra punch I'd hoped for. However, given I didn't really do the recipe justice, I've not rated it yet, but will wait until I've braved the whole thing.
24th Dec, 2012
Fantastic!! I have never 'dry' brined a turkey before. Preparations was done two days in advance, and have to say its the best I've ever done. Moist and flavourful. This ones a keeper! Merry Christmas.
24th Dec, 2012
Fantastic!! I have never 'dry brined' a turkey before. Preparations was done two days in advance, and have to say its the best I've ever done. Moist and flavourful. This ones a keeper! Merry Christmas.
foxy01's picture
6th Dec, 2017
Could you use a turkey crown with this recipe please
goodfoodteam's picture
10th Dec, 2017
Thanks for your question. Yes you can use this method with a turkey crown. It will take much less time to cook though so for help with calculating cooking times, check out our guide here:
27th Dec, 2013
Dry brined for 1 day and that definitely gave extra taste to the turkey. We had a 5.5kg Kelly bronze turkey and roasted for 2.5 hrs and it was juicy and moist. I pushed some of the clementine butter underneath the skin on the breast, that might have helped the moistness. However although the butter gave a nice savoury taste to the turkey I really didn't taste much celementine - next time will zest 2-3 Celementines.
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