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This recipe is classed as easy

Rating 2.98 / 5 (47 votes)

Prep time:
5 min
Cook time:
9 hrs

Matthew Fort shows that good things comes to those who wait


1) Set your oven to the lowest possible setting. Put the turkey in the roasting pan on its side, one thigh upwards. Add a little water to the roasting pan, and place it at the bottom of the oven. After 3 hours turn it over, so the other thigh is uppermost.

2) After another 3 hours more turn it breast down. (Incidentally, you rotate the body because the legs and thighs take longer to cook than the rest of the bird, so it needs more exposure to a higher heat. This is less of a consideration if you have a convection oven, in which the heat is more consistently spread.)

3) An hour before you want to eat it, take it out of the oven. Turn up the oven to maximum heat. At this stage the turkey will still look much as it did when it went it, i.e. not very appetising.

4) So turn the turkey breast upwards in the classic position. Rub a little butter all over the skin and sprinkle with salt. Pop back in the now-hot oven and roast until well tanned all over, basting from time to time. This should take 15-20 minutes.

5) Turn the oven off and let the turkey rest until you want to eat it. That is all you have to do.

6) Well, almost... You do have to take its temperature with a meat thermometer at various times, let's say when you're turning it over. The idea is to bring the bird's internal temperature very slowly to 62-65C. This keeps in all the internal juices, keeps in all its flavour, and stops it getting tough and dry. In short, it makes the most of the turkey. No calculations of so many minutes at one temperature, and then so many minutes at another. No worry about over cooking or undercooking. No hovering, no worrying, no hassle. If you want Christmas dinner, put it in at midday or thereabouts. If it's Christmas lunch you fancy, bung it in just before you go to bed and check it when the kids come and bounce on your bed with their stockings.

7) If it goes a few degrees over 65C, don't worry. If it doesn't look as if it's going to make 62C, just jack up the heat by 15 degrees or so. You may lose some of the juices along the way as the fibres tighten up, but it will be a well-succulent bird. Just keep monitoring the internal temperature. That's the important part, because if you bring a piece of meat to 65C, and hold it there for 15 minutes, you will have killed off all the pathogens. It's as well to put the thermometer probe into the breast at the thickest point, and the thigh, too, and also in that area where the thigh is tucked up close against the main body of the bird. As long as they're all at 65C, you're away to do the rest.


  • 1 x 5-6 kg turkey
  • butter, for greasing

Tips and suggestions

Matthew serves his turkey with Mashed Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Cream, Skillet Cornbread and Fresh Cranberry and Orange Sauce. Taken from Mathew Fort's 'Cooking by numbers'.

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Latest Comment


It will be the first time I have cooked a christmas dinner for all the family this year and think this recipe will work a treat.
I was just wondering on temperature, it advises in the intructions to put the oven on the lowest possible setting, I have an electric oven so what setting would you suggest?

Baker's best Baker's best  Posted 28 Nov 2012 9:18 AM

I have cooked our Christmas turkey using this method for 4 years now and would not do it any other way. You do need a meat thermometer just to make sure you have it up to temperature, but you will get juicy, tasty and succulent meat with loads of flavour. It is true that the bird looks raw at the end of the nine hours, but a quick flazz as per the recipe will tan and crisp up the skin, and you will have your oven free to do the roast spuds and the parsnips and whatever else you want. This is a hassle free way to get your Christmas lunch under way with minimal stress. I would say that I have not done this with a "factory" bird, only with a free range and sometimes organic turkey, but the result is a long way from the dry and tasteless roast that can put people off turkey altogether. So I say get your turkey in the oven last thing Christmas Eve, follow Matthew;s instructions, and you won't regret it. Merry Christmas!

heatherL11786 heatherL11786  Posted 24 Dec 2010 10:47 PM