Roast Turkey with Orange & Thyme Butter & Festive Stuffing | DonalSkehan.com, The star of the show. Bursting with festive flavours!
  • christmas

Roast Turkey with Orange & Thyme Butter & Festive Stuffing

December 05

A great tip for testing if your turkey is cooked is to pierce the thickest part with a long clean skewer or knitting needle. If the juices run clear, it is ready, if it’s a little pink then return to the oven and cook a little longer. I prefer to use a free range or organic bird for this special occasion. If you want to carve it at the table fill the neck cavity with a bunch of fresh herbs and arrange the roast potatoes and Parmesan crusted parsnips around it, draping them with redcurrant sprigs for that festive touch!


  • serves Serves 12
  • time 60 min + cooking time


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4. Mix the butter, thyme, parsley and orange zest ingredients in a medium bowl. Season the butter mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Beginning at the neck end of the turkey and using your fingers, carefully make a pocket between the flesh and skin of the turkey breasts. Gently slide all but 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture into the pocket under the skin, and spread the butter to cover the turkey breasts.
  2. 2. Stuff the main turkey cavity with the garlic halves, thyme sprigs, and a quarter of the onions, carrots and celery. Truss the turkey then spread the reserved 1 tablespoon of butter mixture over the turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. 3. Place the remaining onions, carrots, and celery in the bottom of a heavy large roasting tin. Place the prepared turkey on top of the vegetables and pour around a third of the stock. Cover the breasts with foil. Roast for 2 hours.
  4. 4. Remove the foil covering the turkey breasts and add another third of the stock to the tin. Continue roasting until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 80 °C, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Remove from the oven and transfer the turkey to a warm platter and cover in a loose tent of foil, then let rest 30 minutes.
  5. 5. While the turkey is roasting, prepare the stuffing. Tip the cranberries into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and soften the onion. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool. Add the almonds to the same pan and toast until golden brown. Leave to cool, then roughly chop.
  6. 6. With their peel on, whizz the Clementine quarters in a food processor until puréed. Drain the cranberries. Add the nuts, Clementine purée, cranberries and the remaining ingredients, except the butter, to the onion, with plenty of seasoning. Stir everything together, then tip into a casserole dish.
  7. 7. Dot with butter, cover with foil and roast in the oven with the turkey for 30 minutes. Uncover, give everything a good stir and then roast for a further 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden, tossing again to ensure it cooks evenly. If necessary this can be kept warm in a low oven covered with foil until needed.
  8. 8. When the turkey is cooked, place the tin with the vegetables and cooking juices directly on the hob and add the remaining stock. Bring to the boil, scraping the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon to remove any sediment. Season to taste and then strain the cooking juices into a small pan, discarding the vegetables. Set aside until needed.
  9. 9. To serve, carve the turkey into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the stuffing. Skim any excess fat from the gravy and return to a simmer to warm through, then pour into a warmed gravy jug and hand around separately.

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Seasoning the turkey:

12-14lb turkey, neck and giblets removed

1 garlic head, halved horizontal

small handful fresh thyme sprigs

2 onions, thickly sliced

2 carrots, thickly sliced on the diagonal

2 celery stalks, thickly sliced on the diagonal

handful garlic cloves, peeled

600ml turkey or chicken stock (preferably homemade)

For the orange & thyme butter:

100g softened butter

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme

1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Festive Cranberry Stuffing:

100g dried cranberries

1⁄2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

50g blanched almonds

2 Clementine’s, peel on, quartered

100g dried figs, roughly chopped

1 eating apple, grated (core discarded)

1⁄4 tsp ground allspice

350g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

large knob of butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


You'll Need

Medium mixing bowl x 3


Roasting tin

Food processor

Frying pan

Casserole dish