"Most people just stick their turkey in the oven and leave it until it's totally ruined", says John. "Here is a much better way of cooking it, one allows you to prepare it calmly in advance, and ensures the legs are not overdone."
For the stuffing:
4 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 bunch sage, finely chopped
500g pork belly, minced
250g dried apricots, diced
1 egg, beaten
50g fresh breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
For the turkey crown
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1/2 leek, chopped
1-2 tsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 bunch of thyme
1.2 litres chicken stock
1. To make the stuffing, sweat the onions and the garlic in the butter until soft but not coloured. Stir in the sage and set aside to cool.
2. When the onion mixture is cool place in a bowl with the minced pork belly, apricots, egg and breadcrumbs and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, refrigerate until needed.
3. To prepare the turkey crown, push your hand under the skin covering the breasts so that you make a pocket between the flesh and the skin. Take care not to tear or remove the skin.
4. Soften the butter by working it in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to push the butter under the skin into the pocket you created. Make sure that you have an even covering of butter over both breasts, then set aside.
5. To make the sauce, preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Chop the back and wings of the turkey into small pieces, put them in a roasting tin and roast until golden brown. Drain off any fat, then set the bones aside on a plate.
6. Add the carrot, onion, celery and leek to the roasting tin with a little olive oil and roast until golden brown. Drain any excess oil from the vegetables.
7. Combine the roasted vegetables and bones in a large saucepan with the garlic, thyme and chicken stock. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and skim off the froth that collects on the surface. Turn down to a gently simmer and cook for about 1 hour.
8. Strain the stock through fine sieve, return to a clean saucepan and reduce to the required consistency. Keep warm until ready to serve.
9. To cook the turkey crown, preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Place the turkey crown in a roasting tin and put in the oven. Cook for approximately 45 mins.
10. Turn the oven temperature down to 180C/gas 4 and continue cooking the turkey crown for 1 1/4 hours to 1 1/2 hours. If it starts to colour too much, cover it with foil.
11. Meanwhile, put the foil-wrapped turkey legs in a roasting tin and put them in the oven too. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn the parcels over and cook for another 20 mins. Repeat this procedure twice more until the stuffed legs are cooked evenly all over.
12. When the crown is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing the foil. Slice and serve immediately with the sauce and carved turkey breast.
Adapted from First Crack Your Egg by John Burton Race and Angela Hartnett. Published by Quadrille, £19.99
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