How to roast a turkey crown with confit legs

This is a recipe that can’t fail to please at Christmas. Michel Roux JR’s recipe ensures that the white and brown meat are cooked correctly as the delicate breast cooks quicker than the richer leg meat.

How to roast a turkey crown with confit legs

You will need…

  • 1 free-range turkey (5-6 kgs; the delicious team like KellyBronze and Copas)
  • 1-2 large handfuls of coarse sea salt
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1.5kg duck fat (save from a roast or buy from tins)
  • 150g unsalted butter, softebed
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon


  1. To remove the wishbone (the Y-shaped bone straddling the neck cavity, under the breast), loosen the skin at the cavity, then find the bone with your fingers. Expose it using the tip of a sharp knife, then pull it out carefully. Remove the legs from the crown by cutting the skin between the leg and the body, then twist firmly away from the body to expose the joint.

  2.  Cut through the ball and socket joint, cut around the oyster meat- a tasty nugget of meat that you can feel if you run your fingers along the underside., then remove the leg and thigh completely.

  3. Lay the turkey legs on a thin layer of coarse sea salt in a deep non-metallic, flame-proof dish. Sprinkle with the thyme and more salt to cover lightly. leave for 1½ hours to draw out the moisture. Wipe off the salt with a cloth but don’t rinse. Discard the salt from the dish, then return the legs to it.

  4. Preheat the oven to140ºC/ fan120ºC/gas1. Warm the duck fat gently in a pan, then pour the melted fat over the legs, making sure they’re completely immersed. Cover with baking paper so it touches the oil. Put the dish over a low-medium heat and bring to a simmer, then cook in the oven for about 3½ hours until tender. Leave the legs in the fat to cool, then wrap the dish with cling film. You can keep it like this in the fridge for up to 1 month.

  5. To prepare the turkey crown, cut away the exposed part of the carcass (the pelvis and backbone) where the legs were attached, to give the turkey crown a neat appearance.

  6. Mix the butter in a medium bowl with a generous pinch of salt, a good few twists of black pepper and the lemon zest.Loosen the skin from the crown and, using your fingers, push the butter inside to cover the breast.

  7. For the crown, preheat the oven to 220ºC/fan200ºC/gas7. Put the turkey crown in a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove and baste well with its juices. Turn the oven to 160ºC/fan140ºC/gas3 and cook for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced with a skewer. Baste regularly with the juices from the tin while the bird cooks.
  8. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Serve the crown on its own or with the confit.

  9. To serve the confit, remove the dish from the fridge for 20 minutes so the fat softens slightly, then gently ease one or both legs from the fat. Preheat the oven to 190º C/fan170º/gas 5. if you’re using one leg, press the fat back around the remaining leg and return to the fridge. Scrape of any excess from the leg(s), put on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes. Turn the oven up to 210ºC/190ºC/gas 6½ and cook for a further 5 minutes until crisp. Remove from the oven and shred the meat from the bones to serve or use in a recipe. Strain the duck fat through muslin while still warm, then keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. It’s perfect for roasting potatoes.

Michel says;

  • Chose an outdoor -reared British bird for the best flavour and texture.
  • Go or a smaller turkey. It’s more likely to be female and have a sweeter more succulent meat. if you’re cooking for a crowd it’s better to cook two smaller turkeys than one huge bird.
  • Don’t skimp on cost. The amount you spend does make a difference.
  • Turkey can take big flavours, I like mace or nutmeg in my bread sauce and chilli in my cranberry sauce.

See how to use the confit leg meat here.

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