I underestimated the time it takes to cook a turkey.
I’m sure I’m not the only one. Luckily for me, I underestimated it during the recipe testing phase, which means I can help make sure you don’t make the same mistake at Christmas!
If you’re like me, then you are probably organised enough to make the decision of what protein you will serve on the day of days, but not yet nailed down exactly how you are going to serve it. I’m here today, 4 days out from Christmas, to help. If you’ve decided to cook turkey but still deciding on the flavours, then let me convince you to make my maple and orange roast turkey.
It requires absolutely no brining and results in absolutely flavourful and juicy tender meat. That means less faffing around and more time for other important Chrismassy things (last minute present shopping anyone!).
Thanks to turkey being a more robust bird than a chicken, it’s skin is stronger meaning it is the perfect bird for lifting and stuffing under the skin with a mixture of herb, orange, maple, chilli and duck fat (now, don’t bother getting all funny about the duck fat… it is Christmas after all and it takes this bird to another level!).
It is placed on a bed of onion rounds with a mixture of water and wine on the base, an orange in the cavity and is brushed with duck fat and maple syrup. It requires simply placing in the oven in a sort of set and forget way – checking every now and again to see if the extremities are too brown and covering them with aluminium foil accordingly.
Please take note of the best cooking times for your sized turkey though my friends, because I started to prepare this dish for cooking and only bothered figuring out the cooking time after it was all ready to go in the oven. This gorgeous bird was a size 50 (meaning it was 5 kilos), so it required a cooking time of 3 hours and 40 minutes (with another 20-30 minutes resting time) at a temperature of 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit). I used this guide to ascertain how long I would need to cook my size 50 turkey for and I suggest you do the same.
I put the turkey in the oven at 7:30 which means that the shots you see here were taken just before midnight as my very grumbly tummy growled at me for being an unprepared idiot. Luckily it forgave me when it tasted this gorgeous dish!
Maple Orange Roast Turkey
- 1 x 5kg (size 50) whole turkey, defrosted
- 3 tablespoons duck fat
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon finely diced fresh red chilli
- 4-5 drops chilli oil
- 6 red peppercorns, crushed
- 2 tablespoons chopped continental parsley
- 5 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 orange, halved
- 4 brown onions, skin removed and sliced in large rounds
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
Preheat oven to 180° Celsius (350° Fahrenheit).
Ensure your turkey is completely defrosted, with giblets removed and then pat it completely dry inside and out.
In a small bowl combine duck fat, orange zest, fresh chilli and chilli oil, peppercorns, parsley, 1/2 the maple syrup and salt to taste, then stir till well combined.
Loosen the skin from the meat by working your fingers in under the skin from the neck end and gently lifting it away. You want to try and lift the skin up to the end of the breast, so if you have little fingers, you can use a chop stick to gently ease the skin away (which I did). Turn the bird over and loosen as much skin away as you can on the other side too.
Take half the duck fat mixture and push it in under the skin on the underside of the bird. Use your hands on top to ease the mixture down. Repeat on the other side with the remaining half mixture. Then place the two orange halves in the turkey cavity and tie together the legs with one crossed over the other. Cover the ends of the legs with alfoil.
Place the onion rounds on the base of a large roasting dish and pour in both the wine and water. Place the turkey on top of the onion, ensuring the wing tips are tucked under the bird. Using a pastry brush, brush the remaining maple syrup all over the turkey and place in the oven for 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Check at 1hr intervals to brush some of the juices from the base of the dish all over the bird and see how the skin is browning. If sections of it are browning too rapidly, cover those sections with alfoil as you go.*
Once cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to rest under alfoil for 20 minutes. Serve with fennel and olive oil roasted potatoes, gravy from the left over pan juices and a lovely bottle of wine!
*This cooking time is for a size 50 (5Kg turkey) make sure you check the cooking time required for your sized turkey using the link in the post above.