Roast turkey crown with pancetta, date and sage stuffed legs
- December 2007
- Serves 8, with some leftovers
- Takes 40 minutes to make, about 3 hours in the oven for the turkey, plus 30 minutes’ resting and 25 minutes in the oven
Our roast turkey crown with stuffed legs is a clever way to cook your turkey and it allows you to prepare it calmly in advance. Carving and serving it is a dream.
Want to make the classic turkey recipe? Take a look at our roast turkey with pancetta, date and sage stuffing.
- 8 good-quality chipolata sausages
- 16 slices smoked pancetta
- 8 fresh bay leaves
- 4.5kg oven-ready turkey with giblets, legs boned (see tips)
- 50g butter, at room temperature
For the stuffing
- 3 x 70g packs cubed pancetta or 210g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- Liver from the turkey giblets, chopped (optional)
- 12 good-quality pork sausages, skins removed
- 200g ready-to-eat dates, chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 35g fresh white breadcrumbs
- ¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- Twist and cut each chipolata in the middle to give 2 smaller chipolatas. Wrap each chipolata in a slice of pancetta. Thread 2 onto 8 skewers along with a bay leaf. Chill. Remove the giblets from the turkey – finely chop the liver and set it aside for the stuffing, if using, and cover and chill the rest of the giblets for the gravy.
- For the stuffing. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until golden. Add the onions and fry for 6-8 minutes, until soft and lightly golden. Add the turkey liver, if using, to the pan and cook for another minute. Tip into a bowl and leave to go completely cold. Break in the sausagemeat, then add the dates, herbs, breadcrumbs and nutmeg. Season, mix well and set aside.
- Remove any feathers from the turkey with tweezers. Cut off the wings and set aside. Remove the wishbone.
- Remove the legs and remove the bone from each leg – if your butcher hasn’t already done this (see know-how). Remove the carcass under the breast bone where you’ve removed the legs (see our how-to guide here) You are now left with the crown. Put the wings and carcass in the fridge to use later for the gravy.
- Lay both legs out, skin-side down. Divide the stuffing into 3, shaping 2 into a sausage. Put the sausage-shaped stuffing in the centre of each leg. Fold the meat over to encase it.
- Butter 2 large sheets of strong foil. Put a leg in the centre of each sheet and roll up, securing each end like a cracker. Chill. Put the rest of the stuffing into a lightly greased baking dish, cover and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan170°C/ gas 5. Weigh the crown and calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes, so a 4.5kg crown will need 3 hours in the oven. Pour 300ml water into a large roasting tin and place a rack in or over the tin. Rest the turkey on the rack, spread the butter under the skin and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover the tin with foil. Roast for the calculated cooking time, uncovering the crown for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin. Push a skewer into the thickest part of the leg. If the juices run clear, it’s cooked. If there are any traces of pink, cook for 15 minutes or until the juices are clear.
- One hour before the turkey is cooked, put the legs in another roasting tray and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked.
- Remove the crown from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Lift the turkey onto a carving board. Cover with the foil for 30 minutes to rest. Strain the cooking juices into a jug and leave to settle. Skim off the excess fat. Put the chipolatas on a tray and roast for 30 minutes. Bake the dish of leftover stuffing, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, use the cooking juices and giblets to make the gravy. Carve the turkey crown then remove the foil from the legs and place on a carving board. Cut into thick slices and serve with the carved turkey crown.
When ordering your turkey, ask the butcher to remove and de-bone the legs for you.
A fresh turkey will keep, wrapped, in the fridge for 3 days. To freeze, wrap in a couple of layers of cling film, then two of foil and freeze for up to 1 month.
You can freeze the stuffing for up to 1 month. Or if you can’t manage that, just making and freezing the fresh breadcrumbs is a fantastic timesaver.
To bone out turkey legs pull the legs away from the body and cut along the natural line between the thigh and the body to remove the leg joints in one piece. Repeat with the other leg. Use a sharb knife to cut along the thigh and drumstick to expose the bone. Slide the knife underneath the bone and cut to remove the entire bone. Cut away the sinew. Repeat with the other leg.
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