An overcooked turkey is every cook’s (and guest’s) worst nightmare when it comes to a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Follow our top tips to ensure you get the most succulent, flavoursome turkey possible to serve to your family and friends.

Brining ingredients

  • 1 cup rock sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated brown sugar
  • 2L hot water or lager
  • 1 handful mixed aromatics, spices & herbs (garlic cloves, thyme, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon/orange zest, chilli flakes)

Great birds are never frozen

  • Try to source your bird from places like Wyndham House at Borough market or directly from a local supplier. The best time to cook a turkey is within a week of being slaughtered, without freezing. In addition to supporting local producers like those at Borough Market, a fresh, well-raised turkey is going to taste better than something out of a supermarket

Always brine your turkey

  • Brining is a great, and very easy, technique for producing a flavoursome, moist bird. Simply combine your spices, herbs, salt and sugar in a stock pot and simmer for 15 minutes. For added flavour, toast all spices before you add them to the brine. Once the brine has cooled, drop the turkey in, and leave it there for 12-24 hours. When you wake up on Christmas morning your bird will be juicy and packed with flavour

Use a rub or paste to maximise flavour

  • Use the same flavours that you first introduced to the brine by using butter or pork fat to help create a crispy, golden brown skin and delicious juices for your gravy. Mix a variety of chopped herbs with about 2 cups of lard, ground black pepper, lemon zest and a hint of chilli flakes for a little heat. Blend your mixture together and use your hands or a warm spatula to coat the entire bird with paste, making sure to work it into every gap, top and bottom. When you first put the bird into the oven, the paste will 'melt', infusing the turkey skin with a rich, herbal flavour

Baste with herbs for extra flavour

  • Take your leftover paste, put it in an oven-safe container, and pop it in the oven alongside the bird for just long enough to melt. Every time you baste the bird, take any leftover herb sprigs you have and use them as a brush to apply the herb-lard baste to the skin. This helps to keep the bird moist as it cooks, while adding extra herbal flavour consistent with the initial brine and rub. Baste every 45 minutes or so for good results

Start hot and reduce heat as your bird roasts

  • We recommend starting hot at 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for the first 30 minutes and bringing the temperature down. Towards the end, we blast it again at 200°C for the last 30 minutes without the foil to get that nice golden crispy skin

Keeping the carved meat hot

  • Warm the serving platter (either with boiling water or by putting it into the cooling oven for a few minutes) and keep the meat covered with foil after carving until you are ready to serve. Pour a bit of hot gravy over the meat before serving

Cooking suggestions:

  1. Take the turkey out of the fridge a few hours before cooking (while it is still brining) to bring it to room temperature 
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Rub butter all over the turkey skin and season with herbs, sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stuff the turkey with your favourite stuffing. Chop an onion and put into the bottom of the roasting pan with 250ml of water. Set the turkey on top and cover with foil
  3. Put into the oven and after 30 minutes turn the temperature down to 160°C/140°C Fan/Gas Mark 3. After 4 hours (for a 6kg turkey - add 30 minutes per additional kg) with basting every 45 minutes or so, the juices should almost be running clear
  4. For the last 30 minutes take off the foil and turn the heat up to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. At that point the juices should now be running clear
  5. Take the turkey out of the oven and remove from the roaster onto a carving board. Cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Finish gravy using the juices in the roasting pan. Serve on a warm platter