Salt & pepper turkey

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only
A finishing touch of a lattice of bacon makes this turkey a Christmas dinner centre-stage star

  • Prep:1 hrs
    Cook:3 hrs 30 mins
  • Serves 10
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 644
  • fat 25g
  • saturates 9g
  • carbs 9g
  • sugars 4g
  • fibre 0g
  • protein 91g
  • salt 3.59g


  • 4½ -5.6kg/10-12lb turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Maldon sea salt
  • 1 lemon
  • a few bay leaves, plus extra sprigs to garnish
  • stuffing of your choice
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 10-12 rashers streaky bacon
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml turkeys or chicken stock
  • 150ml/¼ pint port
  • 4 tbsp lingonberries preserve or cranberry sauce
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5/ fan 170C.Wash the turkey inside and out and dry well with kitchen paper. Season inside the bird with salt and pepper.

  2. Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar and add the sea salt. Finely grate the lemon rind on top and mix together. Quarter the lemon and put inside the body cavity along with a few bay leaves.

  3. If you are stuffing the turkey, stuff the neck end only, pushing it towards the breast. Don’t overfill, as the stuffing will expand on cooking. Any leftover stuffing can be shaped into walnut-sized balls and cooked around the turkey for the last half-hour. Secure the neck end flap with a small metal or wooden skewer.

  4. Tie the turkey legs together with kitchen string to give it a good shape.Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 18 minutes per 450g/1lb.

  5. Set the turkey in a large roasting tin. Brush liberally all over with melted butter. Sprinkle the salt and pepper mix evenly over the breast and legs.

  6. Cover the turkey loosely with a large square of foil and roast for the calculated cooking time, basting with the pan juices every hour. Half an hour before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil and string.Re-tie the legs with a rasher of bacon and arrange the rest in a lattice over the breast. Place any stuffing balls around the turkey. Spoon or siphon off 6 tbsp of pan juices into a saucepan for the gravy, then return the turkey to the oven.

  7. At the end of the cooking time, transfer the turkey to a serving platter. Cover tightly with foil and leave to rest for 15-45 minutes.

  8. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Heat the 6 tbsp of pan juices in the saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes until golden. Gradually whisk in the turkey or chicken stock and port, cooking until the gravy is no longer lumpy. Stir in the lingonberry preserve (or cranberry sauce) and mustard and simmer for 5 minutes. Then taste the gravy and season if necessary. Skim off the fat from the juices in the roasting tin, then add about 150ml/1?4 pint of the pan juices to the gravy. Heat through then transfer to a warmed gravy boat.

  9. Carve the turkey and serve.

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