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Christmas Day Time Plan


  • Roast Turkey with Citrus and Herb Stuffing
  • Ultimate Roast Potatoes
  • Red Cabbage with Pomegranate and Cranberries
  • Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts
  • Honey-glazed Carrots
  • Turkey Gravy


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Serves 8

This recipes assumes a 5kg turkey.


Remove the turkey from the fridge an hour before cooking.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.


Gently ease the turkey skin away from the breast, taking care not to tear the skin. It is easiest to do this by inserting your hand gradually between the skin and the breast meat. Smooth 110g of the softened butter over the breast under the skin. This will help to keep the bird moist. Place it in a large roasting pan with the giblets (if using), except the liver. Add ½ onion, 2 bay leaves and a few parsley stalks, and pour in 290ml water. Rub the remaining 60g butter all over the turkey and season well with salt and pepper.

Cover the bird with foil, trying to avoid the foil actually touching the skin, so that the air can circulate and the skin doesn’t stick to the foil as it cooks. Roast in the preheated oven for the time calculated (a 5kg turkey should take about 2½ hours). Check the turkey after 1 ½ hours; if the liquid has evaporated, add more water to the pan. The turkey should brown under the foil. If it is still pale, remove the foil for the final 30 minutes.


Lay the table.


To prepare the sprouts, heat 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add 150g lardons and 2 thinly sliced red onions, and fry over a medium heat until the fat on the lardons has largely melted and they are starting to brown. Add 4 peeled and crushed garlic cloves to the pan and cook for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Check that the turkey is not cooking too quickly.


If you are serving a Christmas pudding, you will need to think about putting it on to steam now. Keep checking the water level every 30 minutes.


Tip the potatoes into a large roasting tin and transfer to the oven. If you only have one oven, cook the potatoes on a low shelf to begin with, underneath the turkey. Once the turkey is cooked, you can move them up to a higher shelf to brown.


Check if the turkey is cooked by piercing the thigh with a skewer to see if the juices are clear; the legs should also be wobbly. If not, return to the oven and roast for a little longer, then test again. Repeat, if necessary, until the bird is cooked. Carefully transfer the bird to a board over a tray (to catch the juices.) Leave to rest somewhere warm, covered in foil, for 20 – 30 minutes before carving (if your turkey is ready and you need to leave it to rest for longer than this, wrap it in a double layer of foil to help keep it warm. It will then be beautifully rested by the time you are ready to serve.)


If serving pigs in blankets, put them in the oven now. Baste and turn the potatoes, and move up to a higher shelf to brown if necessary. Leave to cook until golden brown all over (about another half an hour).


Make the gravy by straining the juices and fat from the roasting tin into a jug. Skim off all the fat, then take 3 tbsp of the fat and pour into a saucepan over a medium heat. Discard the remaining fat. Stir 30g flour into the fat and cook until a deep straw colour. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in 570ml turkey juices. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Check the seasoning. If you feel you need more gravy, you can add a little chicken stock and boil again.


Reheat the red cabbage in a saucepan over a low heat.


Check the contents of the oven. When golden and crisp, drain the excess goose fat off the potatoes, sprinkle with the fresh herbs and sea salt, and transfer to a serving dish. Turn off your oven and place the dish of potatoes, uncovered, inside to keep warm.

For the carrots, melt 40g butter and 4 tbsp honey in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the carrots to the pan and baste with the glaze, adding lemon juice to taste. Towards the end, season with salt and pepper. Put in a serving dish and transfer to the warm oven.


Add the sprouts to the frying pan with the red onion and lardons, over a medium heat. Stir to evenly coat in the oil. Crumble 400g cooked chestnuts into large chunks and add to the sprouts, sautéing for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Keep warm in the oven.


Reheat the gravy and add the pomegranate to the red cabbage before serving.


To carve the turkey, start on one side of the breast and cut down diagonally until you get to the center, then repeat on the other side. Most people nowadays will just cut down the middle of the turkey and cut each breast off as a whole, but this leaves you with just the carcass of the turkey at the end of the carving (if you spent that long cooking it you want it to look as pretty as can be for as long as can be.) To take the turkey leg off, carve the meat down to the point when you can feel a joint in the middle. Put your thumb in the gap you have just made and pull away the meat, popping the joint out.


Serve. Checking:

1. Roast Turkey and Stuffing
2. Gravy
3. Carrots
4. Brussels Sprouts
5. Red Cabbage
6. Roast Potatoes
7. Cranberry Sauce (if serving)
8. Bread Sauce (if serving)
9. Pigs in Blankets (if serving)


Serve up your Christmas pudding.


  • Please note cooking times may vary slightly, depending upon the accuracy of your oven, and the initial temperature of your bird, its shape and exact size. Remember to regularly check dishes in the oven.
  • If you have 2 ovens, the potatoes can be cooked in a separate oven to the turkey which helps to keep them crisp. Remember to preheat the oven to 180°C. Potatoes can also be part roasted earlier in the day and finished off when there is room in the oven.
  • Red cabbage can be reheated to serve in the microwave.
  • Christmas puddings can also be cooked in a microwave – it will have had its first steaming in advance (if you have made your own) so will only take 4 minutes to reheat at full power – then rest for 3 minutes before flaming and serving.
  • It is important to stuff the neck end of the turkey, not the main cavity. Stuffing the main cavity can impede heat penetration, preventing the temperature in the cavity from becoming high enough to kill any bacteria present, which can cause food poisoning.
  • Remember to remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, as this allows it to cook more evenly.
  • If you buy a frozen turkey rather than a fresh turkey, it is essential to defrost it thoroughly before cooking and you will need to allow plenty of time for this. The fridge is the safest place to thaw a turkey, to ensure the outside does not warm up. You will need to allow 10 – 12 hours per kg. If you do not have room in your fridge (or time for defrosting is limited), it is possible to defrost the bird in a cool room, ideally well below 18°C and certainly not above this temperature. Allow at least 3-4 hours per kg at cool room temperature.