Christmas tips: festive turkey recipes

If you’re looking for a more ambitious way to cook turkey, but without too much fuss, try these dishes.

Christmas turkey recipes
Christmas turkey recipes

Phil Vickery’s saffron turkey with wild rice and cranberry stuffing

For the stuffing:

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1 tbsp olive oil

50g butter

2 onions, chopped

2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped

100g cooked wild and long grain rice

50g dried cranberries

100g dried apricots, roughly chopped

175g fresh white breadcrumbs

6 good quality pork and herb sausages, skinned

1 lemon, finely grated rind

1 egg, beaten

For the turkey:

5.6kg British turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed

1 lemon, halved

1 bay leaf

50g butter

1/2 tsp saffron threads


Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and fry the onion and rosemary for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining stuffing ingredients until well combined. Season.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, stir in the saffron threads and leave to cool slightly.

Push some of the stuffing into the neck end of the bird packing it right up to the breast meat. Secure the neck skin with cocktail sticks. Roll the remaining stuffing into balls (these can be cooked separately for 30 minutes).

Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 20 minutes per kg + 90 minutes at the end. Push the lemon halves and bayleaf into the cavity and place in a roasting tin. Brush the whole bird with the saffron butter and season well.

Cover with foil and roast. Remove the foil and baste with any remaining saffron butter and roast uncovered for the last hour of cooking time. To check to see if the turkey is cooked push a metal skewer into the thickest part of the leg – if the juices run clear the turkey is cooked if the juices are slightly pink pop back into the oven for a further 15 minutes before checking again. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

Soy and apricot

glazed turkey

For the stuffing:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 rashers back bacon, finely chopped

50g fresh cranberries

250g fresh breadcrumbs

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme

75g pecan halves, coarsely chopped

3 eggs, beaten

Ground black pepper

For the turkey and glaze:

6kg oven-ready British turkey

5 tbsp apricot jam

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and bacon until the onion is soft and golden and the bacon cooked. Add the cranberries and continue to cook until the berries ‘pop’. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, grated orange zest and juice, thyme, pecans and eggs. Season with freshly ground black pepper and stir everything together until evenly mixed.

2 Spoon some of the stuffing into the neck end of the turkey and roll the rest into small balls. Place the balls in a single layer in a shallow, greased ovenproof dish and chill until needed. .

3 Fold the loose neck skin under the turkey and tuck the wing tips under the body to hold the neck skin in place. Lift the turkey into a large, deep roasting tin and season all over with freshly ground black pepper. .

4 Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Cover the turkey with a large sheet of foil to form a tent over the bird so air can circulate around it and tuck the foil around the top edge of the tin to make a tight seal. .

5 Roast the turkey in the oven for 3 hours, basting it with the pan juices from time to time. Mix together the apricot jam, soy sauce and lemon juice until smooth. Remove the turkey from the oven and take off the foil. Brush the glaze over all over the turkey and return to the oven with the stuffing balls.

Roast for another 30 mins or until the turkey is a rich golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the leg is pierced with a skewer. .

6 Leave the turkey in a warm place to rest for 15-20 mins before carving. Serve with roast potatoes, vegetables and the stuffing. .

Cook’s tip: Don’t buy a premium apricot jam to make the glaze as it will contain lots of large pieces of fruit that will need to be sieved out. If your supermarket sells apricot glaze, using for brushing over fruit tarts, this is ideal as it’s smooth.

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