The Perfect Roast Turkey

My traditional Turkey recipe will impress friends and family this year. Try to buy the best organic / free range bird you can get hold of. Visit your trusted butcher well in advance to place your order. The quality of your bird will determine the success of this experience! If however you are unable to use a fresh turkey, ensure that your frozen turkey is thoroughly defrosted.

The total cooking time for this dish is 3hrs, this is split between 1.5hrs cooking in the oven and the remaining 1.5hrs resting! Do not be fooled into thinking that the Turkey only cooks in the oven; by leaving the Turkey to rest, you allow the residual heat to penetrate right to the core. Believe me, it has been tried, tested and tried again.  

Cooking time: 3hrs (1.5hrs in the oven, 1.5hrs resting).

Great accompaniment: Cranberry sauce.

Special equipment: Roaster and rack.

Turkey Portrait MAIN IMAGE

Ingredients Required

5kg Bronze turkey, free range / organic, wishbone remove, thawed to 16’c (*1)
1 Turkey neck, chopped into 3cm pieces
200g Turkey wings, chopped into 3cm pieces
20ml Rapeseed oil
40g Butter, unsalted, room temperature
2 pinches Sea salt
2 pinches White pepper, freshly ground
200ml Water
1 tsp Arrowroot, diluted in 15ml cold water

Cooking Method

Planning ahead

Ask the butcher to prepare it for you, to remove and chop up the wings and neck into 2cm pieces and to remove the wish bone (this makes the turkey easier to carve). 

Cooking the turkey

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Place a large roasting tray on the stove over a medium heat. Add the rapeseed oil followed by the wings and chopped neck and roast for 10 minutes, turning them every 2 minutes to ensure an even colour. Meanwhile, in a small bowl with the back of a dessert spoon, soften the butter with the salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, cover the turkey with half of the soft seasoned butter. In the last 2 minutes of roasting the wings and neck, add the remaining butter to the tray. Place the turkey on top of the roasted bones and place into the preheated oven for 30 mins.

After this initial roasting time, baste the turkey all over, reduce the oven temperature to 150°C, add the water and continue to cook for an hour basting every 20 minutes with the cooking juices to impart maximum flavor and even caramelisation to your Turkey. At the end of the cooking time, test by inserting a skewer or roasting fork into the thickest part of the thigh of the turkey; if the liquid that runs out is transparent and not bloody, the turkey is cooked (*2). You can alternatively use a temperature probe the thigh meat should reach just above 70°C and the breast meat will be around 63°C.

Remove the turkey from the oven, place onto a large tray or carving board to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1.5 hours (*3). Reserve in a warm place until needed. This should give you ample time to cook your roast potatoes and other accompanying vegetables as you now have a free oven space

Finishing the roasting juices

Place the baking tray on the hob on a medium heat, bring to the boil and stir the bottom of the tray to dissolve the caramelised roasting juices. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required. Remember to save and add the resting juices from the turkey.

Stir the diluted arrowroot to slightly thicken the jus as it is simmering.

Strain through a fine sieve into a warm sauce boat.


Cooking chart (the resting period was done uncovered)

Probed intervals

Breast Temp

Thigh temp

Straight from the oven



After 20mins resting



After 40 mins resting



After 1 hour resting



 * As all domestic ovens vary, please ensure you use a probe to check the temperature of your Turkey before serving. This is to make sure that your Turkey is fully cooked through.


Alternative recipes:

Braised red cabbage

Pan-fried parsnips

Orange purée

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2014.

Photograph © David Griffen 2014.