These delicious, fuss-free dishes offer something for everyone. Assuming you began your preparation on Christmas Eve, following these timings should mean you have lunch on the table by 1.30pm, and you won’t have spent all morning in the kitchen! If you’re planning ahead, and you have a question, send us a tweet using #LeithsChristmas and we’ll do our best to help.

SERVES 8

This recipe assumes a 5kg turkey.

9am

Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking.

9.30am 

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

10am

Gently ease the turkey skin away from the breast, taking care not to tear the skin. It is easiest to do this by inserting your hand gradually between the skin and the breast meat. Smooth 110g of the softened butter over the breast under the skin. This will help to keep the bird moist. Place it in a large roasting pan with the giblets (if using), except the liver. Add 1/2 onion, 2 bay leaves and a few parsley stalks and pour in 290ml water. Rub the remaining 60g butter all over the turkey and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the bird with foil and roast in the pre-heated oven for the time calculated (a 5kg turkey should take about 2½ hours). Check the turkey after 1 ½ hours; if the liquid has evaporated add more water to the pan. The turkey should brown under the foil. If it is still pale, remove the foil for the final 30 minutes. 

10.30am

Lay the table. 

11.15am 

Prepare the sprout dish: Heat 3-4 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, add 150g lardons and 2 thinly sliced red onions and fry over a medium heat until they are starting to brown. Add 4 peeled and crushed garlic cloves to the pan and cook for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Check the turkey is not cooking too fast. 

12.00pm

If you are serving a Christmas pudding, you will need to think about putting it on to steam now, keep checking the water level every 30 minutes. 

12.05pm 

Tip the potatoes into a large roasting tin and transfer to the oven. If you only have one oven, cook the potatoes on a low shelf to begin with, underneath the turkey. Once the turkey is cooked you can move them up higher to brown. 

12.15pm

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the carrots until just al dente (about 5 minutes). Drain and quickly refresh in cold water.

12.30pm

Check if the turkey is cooked by piercing the thigh with a skewer to see if the juices are clear; the legs should also be wobbly. If not, return to the oven and roast for a little longer, then test again. Repeat, if necessary, until the bird is cooked. Carefully transfer the bird to a board over a tray (to catch the juices). Leave to rest somewhere warm, covered in foil, for 20–30 minutes before carving (if your turkey is ready and you need to leave it to rest for longer than this, wrap it in a double layer of foil to help keep it warm. It will then be beautifully rested by the time you are ready to serve).

12.35pm

If serving pigs in blankets, put them in the oven now. Baste and turn the potatoes and move up to a higher shelf to brown if necessary. Leave to cook until golden brown all over (about another half an hour). 

12.40pm

Make the gravy by straining the juices and fat from the roasting tin into a jug. Skim off all the fat, then take 3 tablespoons of the fat and pour it into a saucepan over a medium heat. Discard the remaining fat. Stir 30g flour into the fat and cook until a deep straw colour. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in 570ml turkey juices. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring. Boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Check the seasoning. If you feel you need more gravy you can add a little chicken stock and boil again. 

1.00pm

Reheat the red cabbage in a saucepan over a low heat. 

1.05pm

Check the contents of the oven. When golden and crisp, drain the excess goose fat off the potatoes and sprinkle with the fresh herbs and sea salt. Transfer to a serving dish and put, uncovered, in a turned off warm oven. 

Melt 40g butter and 4 tbsp honey for the carrots in a saucepan over a medium heat, then return the carrots to the pan and baste with the glaze, adding lemon juice to taste, and seasoning with salt and pepper towards the end. Put in a serving dish and transfer to the turned off oven.

1.10pm

Add the sprouts to the frying pan with the red onion and lardons over a medium heat. Stir to evenly coat in the oil. Crumble 400g cooked chestnuts into large chunks and add to the sprouts, sauté for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Keep warm in the turned off oven. 

1.20pm

Reheat the gravy and add the pomegranate to the red cabbage before serving. 

1.25pm

Carve the turkey: Start on one side of the breast and cut down diagonally until you get to the centre, then repeat on the other side. Most people nowadays will just cut down the middle of the turkey and cut each breast off as a whole but this leaves you with just the carcass of the turkey at the end of the carving (if you spent that long cooking it you want it to look as pretty as can be for as long as can be).To take the turkey leg off, carve the meat down to the point when you can feel a joint in the middle. Put your thumb in the gap you have just made and pull away the meat, popping the joint out.

1.30pm

Serve. Checking: 

1.  Turkey
2.  Gravy
3.  Carrots
4.  Brussel Sprouts
5.  Red Cabbage
6.  Roast Potatoes
7.  Cranberry Sauce (if serving)
8.  Bread Sauce (if serving)
9.  Pigs in blankets (if serving) 

2.30pm

Serve up your Christmas pudding. 

Notes

• Please note cooking times may vary slightly, depending upon the accuracy of your oven, and the initial temperature of your bird, its shape and exact size. Remember to regularly check dishes in the oven. 
• If you have 2 ovens, the potatoes can be cooked in a separate oven to the turkey which helps to keep them crisp. Remember to pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
• It is important to stuff the neck end of the turkey, not the main cavity. Stuffing the main cavity can impede heat penetration, preventing the temperature in the cavity from becoming high enough to kill any bacteria present, which can cause food poisoning. 
• Remember to remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, as this allows it to cook more evenly. 
• If you buy a frozen turkey rather than a fresh turkey, it is essential to defrost it thoroughly before cooking and you will need to allow plenty of time for this. The fridge is the safest place to thaw a turkey, to ensure the outside does not warm up. You will need to allow 10 – 12 hours per kg. If you do not have room in your fridge (or time for defrosting is limited), it is possible to defrost the bird in a cool room, ideally well below 18°C and certainly not above this temperature. Allow at least 3-4 hours per kg at cool room temperature.

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