Christmas entertaining: foolproof turkey recipe

It’s that time of year again, Christmas is coming and we start to plan and look forward to the big day.

This is where maybe some of us start to feel like we need to be a kitchen superhero… oh and the perfect host!

I’ve been wondering why we feel the need to put ourselves under so much pressure at this time of year. We also become people who often compromise on what we actually like to eat! Eat what you like! I can’t stress this enough. Just because it’s Christmas you don’t have to eat turkey if you don’t like it! If you want a curry on Christmas day then you should have one. If you have a particular favourite meat of fish, cook that and make a new tradition for your family.

Now I might be starting to sound a bit ‘grinchy’ but I’m not…I adore Christmas and I relish the cooking more than anything else. I’m going to give you my foolproof turkey recipe below, if you have chosen to have turkey.

Pre-planning really is a great help and can also allow you to not become a slave in the kitchen and hopefully enjoy it as much as possible. With a large cooked piece of meat you have the luxury of resting time which gives you an hour to get other things finished at the end whilst freeing up the oven. Meat that’s not rested won’t be as nice, so grab this opportunity with both hands! (not literally, the tray will be hot!).

Most importantly Happy Christmas! Enjoy!

The perfect turkey!

Cooking the turkey at Christmas can be daunting but it really doesn’t have to be, with a couple of tricks you really can cook the perfect bird.

The important thing to remember is that your turkey will need to rest and covered, it can rest happily for an hour.

My timings are based on a 12lb bird.


  • Whole turkey – a size that suits your family. The cooking time will depend on the size.
  • 100g of salted butter, softened
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage – finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic – 2 finely chopped + 2 whole bulbs
  • 1 orange zest and juice
  • 1 satsuma – halved
  • Salt & pepper

Garnishes I use around my turkey

  • Whole garlic bulbs
  • Halved onions
  • Halved satsumas
  • Quartered apples
  • Sage & onion stuffing
  • Bay & sage leaves


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 140c.
  2. Prep the turkey by making sure any giblets are removed.
  3. In a bowl mix the softened butter with the sage, garlic, orange zest and juice, seasoned with salt and pepper.
  4. Next turn the turkey towards you (legs pointing away). Carefully using your fingertips ease the skin away from the flesh of the bird and keep working your way up until the skin is loose from the flesh. Here you’re creating a pocket to put the butter mixture into.
  5. Take a scoop of butter and work it under the skin, smoothing it out as you go, this keeps the flesh really moist whilst you’re cooking it. Any leftover butter can be smoothed over the top of the skin. Drizzle with a little oil and some salt and pepper. Pop it into the oven covered in foil.
  6. Cook for an hour then remove the foil. Cook for a further hour and a half. For the last 45 minutes turn up the heat to 180c and pop in your sides -onion, apple, stuffing etc.
  7. Take the bird out to rest, pop the foil back on and also cover with a tea towel. This gives you time to finish other elements of your Christmas dinner.

Thoughts from the Eat & Breathe kitchen

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