- 1 free-range turkey weighing 4kg/8lb 11oz
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 175g/6oz unsalted or lightly salted butter
- For the bread sauce
- 450ml/15fl oz full-cream milk
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves
- 75-100g (2½ to 3½ oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
- freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 40g/1½oz butter or 2 tbsp double cream
- cayenne pepper, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Check that you
have not left the plastic bag of giblets lurking inside the bird. Put
the turkey in a large, deep roasting tin. Season generously all over
with salt and pepper and massage the seasoning into the skin.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Fold the
muslin in four and lower it into the melted butter, pushing it in so
that it soaks up virtually all the butter.
Lift out the butter-soaked muslin and lay it over the turkey, making sure that it completely covers the breast and upper thighs.
Pour about 300ml/½ pint water into the roasting tin
and slide it into the oven. Cook for approximately 3 hours 20 minutes,
basting the bird approximately every 30 minutes with the pan juices.
Test that the turkey is properly cooked in just the
same way as you would a chicken. Pierce the thickest part of the thigh
with a skewer. If the juices run clear then the turkey is done. If they
are pink, slide it straight back into the oven for a further 15 minutes
before testing again and continue to do this until they do run clear.
Once it's done, transfer the turkey to a large
serving dish, discard the muslin and leave in a warm place to rest for
at least half an hour. Cover with foil to stop the meat going cold.
While the turkey is cooking, make the bread sauce.
Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan. Stick the four cloves into
the onion, add to the milk and bring very, very slowly up to the boil,
so that the milk has plenty of time to absorb the flavours of the onion
and the cloves.
Remove the onion and cloves and stir enough
breadcrumbs into the milk to give a thick sauce. Season to taste with
nutmeg and salt. Stir in the butter or cream, adjust the seasoning, then
spoon into a warm serving bowl, sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper
and place on the table. If making in advance, leave to cool, then cover
with cling film and store in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat
thoroughly before serving. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper just before