Citrus & thyme turkey

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only
Try this traditional based turkey with its easy citrus twist that transforms it into a Christmas Day showstopper

  • Prep:4 hrs 30 mins
    Including 3 hrs 30 mins roasting time
  • Serves 10
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 572
  • fat 23g
  • saturates 7g
  • carbs 11g
  • sugars 2g
  • fibre 1g
  • protein 75g
  • salt 0.64g


  • 4½ -5.6kg/10-12lb turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed
  • 2x 20g bunches of lemon or regular thyme
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • Lightly spiced Christmas stuffing (see 'Goes well with' below)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 carrots, halved lengthways and cut into chunks
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 300ml/½pint red wine
  • 1 heaped tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 600ml turkey or chicken stock
  • 10 small red onions, peeled and quartered lengthways but still attached at the root
  • 2 onion squash or 2 small butternut squash (total weight about 500g/1lb 2oz), cut into thin wedges and peeled


  1. Chop the leafy tops of the thyme but not the hard, woody branch ends (save these for the cavity). Finely grate the orange and lemon zest into a small bowl and mix with the chopped thyme, olive oil and seasoning. Mash the mix into the oil with the back of a metal spoon (or use a pestle and mortar) to release its flavour. Set aside to infuse.

  2. Preheat the oven to fan 170C/conventional 190C/gas 5. Wash the turkey inside and out and dry well with kitchen paper. To make carving easier, you can now cut out the wishbone, but it’s not essential.

  3. Put the reserved third of the stuffing in the neck end of the turkey and push it towards the breast. Don’t overfill, as the stuffing will expand during cooking. Secure the neck end flap with a small metal skewer. Weigh the stuffed turkey and calculate the cooking time – allow 18 minutes per 450g/1lb.

  4. Season the turkey generously with salt and pepper inside and out. Halve the orange and lemon and put in the cavity (squeezing the fruit as it goes in) with the thyme branches and two of the bay leaves. Tie the turkey legs together to give the bird a good shape.

  5. Throw the chopped carrots and onion and remaining bay leaves into a large roasting tin. Sit the turkey on top of the vegetables, smear the butter over the skin and cover with a loose tent of foil. Roast the turkey for the calculated time, basting with the pan juices every hour.

  6. Meanwhile, tip the red onions and squash into a shallow roasting tray and toss in half of the thyme oil, making sure you get it right into the cuts in the onions. Set the tray aside.

  7. Half an hour before the end of the turkey’s cooking time, whip off the foil and leave the bird to brown. After 15 minutes, drizzle the turkey with the remaining thyme oil.

  8. To test if the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of a thigh – the juices should run clear. If they are still pink, cook for a further 20-30 minutes and test again. Remove the turkey from the oven and turn the oven up to fan 180C/conventional 200C/gas 6. Transfer theturkey to a serving platter, cover tightly with foil and leave to rest while you finish off the vegetables and trimmings.

  9. Put the red onions and squash in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes. At the same time, roast the bacon-wrapped sausages (see Lightly spiced Christmas stuffing, right) for 30 minutes. Now make the gravy. Discard any fat from the roasting tin. Stir the wine and redcurrant jelly into the carrots and onion in the tin. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 8-10 minutes to reduce by half. Scrape the sticky bits off the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon as the gravy boils. Pour in the stock and simmer for 10 minutes until you have a dark, tasty gravy, adding salt and pepper to taste. Strain the gravy into a pan (discard the vegetables), bring back to the boil and serve in a warm jug.

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