Buy the best fresh turkey you can afford. Lucy’s top choice is a free-range organic bird, followed by a naturally raised local turkey, a kosher turkey (which is already brined) or at least a fresh, air-chilled bird. All are better tasting and easier to handle than frozen birds.
Have the butcher remove the turkey’s backbone and crack the breast bone so the bird will lie flat. If you’ve bought a frozen turkey and have to do this yourself, cut along both sides of the backbone with kitchen shears, turn the turkey over and, with a sharp knife, whack the breast bone so it cracks. Lucy does not recommend flattening a turkey that weighs more than 16 pounds.
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Seasoned butter under the skin adds flavour. Use any herbs you like – these are just a guide.
SIZE OF BIRD
Check the size of the bird to make sure it will fit in your oven. Generally, 14-pound (seven-kilogram) birds fit in all ovens, but really big turkeys need bigger ovens.
Unwrap paper and plastic from turkey. Place on a baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and set in the refrigerator for up to two days.
For a flattened turkey, you need a large baking sheet or a large foil pan. We have used one baking sheet with another partway underneath when the turkey has been too big.
Let the bird rest on a carving board for 15 to 20 minutes to let the juices retract. The bird will be easier to carve.
Find the joints for the leg and thigh and remove them whole on each side. Cut down through bones to divide thigh and leg. Remove wing bones. Carve the breasts in long thin slices. Place everything on a platter.
Decorate the platter with fresh herbs, cranberries or other edible ingredients you have on hand. Frisée looks pretty, as does arugula.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp chopped garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 turkey (12 lbs, or 6 kg)
3 tbsp turkey drippings
3 tbsp flour
3 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine the butter with chives, tarragon, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper and mix together.
Place turkey on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Tuck wing tips under bird. Using a teaspoon or your fingers, make a space between the skin and meat of the turkey and spread half the seasoned butter underneath the skin. Brush the remainder over the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes, basting occasionally, until an oven thermometer reads 165 F at the thickest part of the turkey (where the leg meets the body). Remove turkey from oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Drain 3 tbsp turkey drippings into a skillet and discard remaining fat. Over medium heat, add flour and whisk until incorporated. Cook until flour takes on some colour, about 2 minutes. Add stock and soy sauce, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Remove turkey legs and split into drumsticks and thighs. Cut breast lengthwise and carve into pieces. Lay all meat on a platter and serve with gravy.