Christmas spice-rubbed turkey
- November 2014
- Serves 8 with plenty of leftovers
- Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 2-2½ hours, plus 1 days marinating
Spice up your Christmas Day turkey by rubbing it with a headily festive combination of cinnamon, allspice and cloves.
Or, try this spiced roast turkey recipe flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- 17.2g (8.6g saturated)
- 0.9g (0.8g sugars)
- 6kg free-range slow-grown turkey
- 1 orange, halved
- Fresh bay leaves for stuffing
- Vegetable oil for drizzling
For the spice rub
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 8 dried allspice berries
- 6 cloves
- Grated zest 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 4 mace blades
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp flaked sea salt
- 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
For the herb butter
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves finely chopped
- 6 fresh thyme or lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 4 fresh oregano sprigs (optional), leaves picked and roughly chopped
- Small bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
- For the spice rub, whizz all the ingredients in a spice grinder or pound in a pestle and mortar until the mixture resembles a damp, sandy powder (see Make Ahead).
- For the herb butter, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season generously. Spoon half onto a sheet of cling film, wrap and shape into a disk, then freeze. Repeat with the remaining butter (see Make Ahead).
- Two days before cooking, defrost the spice rub, smear all over the turkey, then leave in the fridge, loosely covered in cling film, for the spices to permeate the skin.
- On the day of cooking, defrost or soften the herb butter. Take the turkey out of the fridge 2 hours before you plan to put it in the oven. Heat the oven to 180C/fan160C/ gas Loosen the skin of the turkey neck, and, using your fingers, create 2 pockets between the skin and the breast; try not to tear the skin. Stuff the herb butter into the pockets, massaging it down as far as you can. Put the orange halves and some of the bay leaves in the turkey cavity and drizzle a little oil over the bird.
- Put in a large roasting tin and cook for 2-21⁄2 hours until a digital thermometer reads 65-70°C when inserted into the thickest parts of the meat. If it looks as if the spices are burning, cover loosely with foil. Remove from the oven, leave for 10 minutes, then tip the bird up to pour out any juices from the cavity. Remove to a lipped board and rest for up to 2 hours before carving.
Start the recipe 2 days before you want to serve. You can make the spice rub in advance and keep it chilled, covered, for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Make the herb butter well in advance and freeze.
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