This brined turkey recipe is marinated in a sweet, homemade brine made from tangy juniper berries and fresh bay leaves and is stuffed with a pork and onion stuffing. A brined turkey is much more moist way of cooking it and adds a great amount of flavour to the turkey. Make sure the bird is fully defrosted before cooking so the flavoursome brine can be absorbed. To test if the turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the flesh on the thigh with a skewer – if the juices run out clear, it’s cooked, but if there’s still any pinkness, continue cooking. Garnish your bird with fresh sage and bay leaves for even more flavour and leave to rest before carving.
- For the brine:
- 1tbsp juniper berries
- 2tbsp black peppercorns
- 6-8 bay leaves
- 750g carton salt
- For the turkey:
- 3.5-4.5kg British turkey
- 1 litre stock, either giblet stock or chicken stock
- 2-3tbsp olive oil
- For the stuffing:
- 454-500g packet sausages (de-skinned) or sausagemeat
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 30g breadcrumbs
- 2-3tbsp freshly chopped sage
- Salt and ground black pepper
To make the brine: Pour 2 litres water into a pan, add the juniper berries, peppercorns and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Add the salt, and stir until it dissolves, then take the pan off the heat. Add 8 litres cold water. Leave the mixture to cool. Place the turkey in a container (made from anything but aluminium) that’s just larger than the bird, then pour over the brine — if the bird isn’t fully immersed, make up some more. Leave for a minimum of 12 hours, preferably 24.
Set the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Rinse and dry the turkey well.
To make the stuffing: Mix all ingredients together. Stuff the neck end of the turkey. Any extra stuffing can be shaped into balls.
Position one oven shelf towards the bottom for the turkey, and the other one towards the top for the potatoes.
Weigh the stuffed turkey. Allow 20 mins cooking time per kg, plus 90 mins. After the turkey is cooked, leave it to rest for about 30 mins before carving, so add this to the cooking time when working out what time to put it in the oven.
Place the turkey in a roasting tin and pour in the stock, then drizzle over the oil. Cover with foil and put in the oven. Remove the foil for the last 45-50 mins of cooking. Cook any stuffing balls in the roasting tin with the potatoes for 20-25 mins.
Test if the turkey is cooked. If it’s still pink continue cooking. If you have a probe thermometer, the temperature in the thickest part of the flesh should be at least 75°C.
When the juices run clear, remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a sheet of foil, and leave in a warm place for 20-30 mins before serving.
Strain the juices from the pan, then use to make the gravy. If the juices are very salty, mix them with some water or stock to make gravy.
Any cold meat and stuffing left over can be packed in freezer bags and frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to defrost before serving.
Garnish the turkey platter with sprigs of fresh sage and bay leaves