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Roast turkey.

Photo: Rebecca Hallas

Roast turkey without stuffing is way too joyless to contemplate, so while you're going to all this trouble you may as well go all the way. Try a traditional favourite - bread with chestnuts and prunes. Whichever you choose, be sure to make extra as you definitely don't want to run out before second helpings.


  • 5-6kg whole turkey (giblets and neck included)
  • 120g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stick
  • half an onion
  • peppercorns


  • 300g stale white crusty bread, cut into smallish pieces
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped sage (optional)
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 80g prunes, chopped
  • 150g unsweetened tinned chestnuts, chopped*
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • * tinned chestnuts are found in good delis - try the French deli at Queen Vic Market


For the turkey

Pre-heat oven to 175C.

Take the turkey out of the fridge well before cooking so that it comes to room temperature. Remove the wing tips and reserve for the stock. Fill the inside cavity with your stuffing (about three-quarters full) and put the rest of the stuffing in a buttered and covered dish to cook separately.

Melt the butter and liberally brush the outside with it.

Season all over with salt and pepper and place breast down in a heavy roasting pan. Roast your turkey according to the cooking chart opposite (my 5.5kg turkey took 2 hours and 15 minutes) and remember to baste 2-3 times.

While it's roasting, make a turkey stock for the gravy by placing the neck, giblets and wing tips in a small pot with the carrot, celery stick and onion. Cover with water, add a pinch of salt and some peppercorns and simmer gently for 2 hours.

Turn the turkey over in the last 20 minutes of cooking to brown.

To test if the turkey is cooked, the same rule applies as to roast chicken - place a skewer into the thickest bit of the thigh and if the juices run clear it is cooked. Remove to a warm platter to rest and cover with foil and a tea towel while you make the gravy.

For the stuffing

This is my favourite stuffing - the sweetness of the chestnuts and prunes goes beautifully with the turkey and it can be made the day before.

Soak bread in the warmed milk. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions and bacon until soft and golden. Add to the bread, along with all the other ingredients and mix together with your hands until combined and well squishy.

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