Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey and all the trimmings. This delicious turkey is topped with rashers of bacon and stuffed with a sausage and chestnut stuffing – serve with all the trimmings to make great festive treat for all the family coming round this year.
- 8 large, stoned prunes
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 454g pack Cumberland-style sausages
- 2 rashers dry-cured unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped
- 200g pack cooked and peeled chestnuts, chopped
- 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 5-6kg (11-13lb) turkey, thawed if frozen
- 3 tbsp goose fat or softened butter
- Fresh sage leaves, optional
- 10-12 rashers streaky bacon
- 1 onion and 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 8-12 unpeeled shallots
- 18 cocktail sausages
- For the gravy:
- About 600ml (1 pint) hot chicken stock
- 1-2 tsp cornflour
- 100ml (3½fl oz) Marsala, Madeira or sherry
To make the stuffing: Pour boiling water over the prunes in a small bowl to cover them. Leave for 20 mins to plump up. Drain off water, chop prunes, then put them in a larger bowl and add the brandy. Skin sausages and mix the meat with the bacon and chestnuts, apple, zest and juice from half the lemon (keep the shell), nutmeg and seasoning.
Pull any feathers out of the turkey, with tweezers. Wipe it with kitchen paper. Push just over half the stuffing into the neck end of the bird. Secure with 2 bamboo or metal skewers. Spoon the rest of the stuffing into a shallow, buttered baking dish and set aside until ready to cook. Weigh turkey and calculate the cooking time — about 3½ hours in total (see Tip).
Set the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 190°C. Rub the other lemon half over the turkey, squeezing out the juice as you go, and put both lemon shells inside the bird. Smear turkey breast and legs with goose fat or butter. Season and dot with sage leaves, if you like. Stretch bacon rashers with the back of a knife. Overlap them in a lattice over the breast and secure with string. Tie the legs together.
Put the bird in a large roasting tin, with the neck and heart pushed underneath the stuffed neck end, to keep it in shape. Roast, basting now and then with the cooking juices. After 1 hour, add the onion, carrot, celery and shallots to the tin and cover the whole tin with foil. Cook for another 2-2½ hours, checking hourly. Take out shallots when they’re cooked and set aside.
Check the turkey is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should run clear. If not, cook for another 15 mins, then test again. Put the bird on a warm serving platter, cover with foil and keep in a warm place for 20-30 mins before carving.
Put the sausages in a small roasting tin, along with the dish of stuffing, and cook in the oven for 25-30 mins.
To make the gravy: Transfer the onion, carrot and celery from the roasting tin to a pan, and pour the juices into a large jug, scraping all the crunchy bits from the tin into the pan. Leave cooking juices for 5-10 mins to settle, then pour off the fat into a small bowl. Add the juices to the pan along with some chicken stock and simmer for 10-15 mins until the vegetables are soft. Roughly mash the vegetables in the pan. Mix the cornflour with the fortified wine and whisk into the gravy. Boil for a few minutes until thickened. Strain into a jug, then pour into your gravy boat. Garnish turkey with bay leaves, if you like. Serve with the sausages, shallots and gravy.
Turkey timings The British Turkey Information Service www.britishturkey.co.uk) recommends cooking a turkey at Gas Mark 5 or 190°C for the following times: 4kg (9lb) or more: 20 mins per kg, plus an extra 90 mins. Less than 4kg (9lb): 20 mins per kg, plus an extra 70 mins. l Weigh the turkey once it has been stuffed. l Don’t forget to allow 20-30 mins standing time before carving.