Lemon Thyme Butter Turkey

You obviously will have to work out the size of your turkey to cope with the amount of guests you are having, but always over estimate so you can make good use of the leftovers and obviously save some precious time if you are having more guests after Christmas. Please don’t over cook your turkey – some recipes ask for far more hours than is necessary to cook the bird. This is a really simple way of cooking the turkey and getting maximum flavour. We also cook the stuffing separately in balls, to avoid any fights!

Serves: 8-10                    Preparation Time: 20 mins      Cook Time:3 hours (or until juices run clear)



  • 1 x 6kg/13lb turkey
  • 450g/1 lb butter, room temperature
  • 1 lemon (juiced and peel finely grated)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 bunch of thyme, leaves removed and chopped



Heat the oven to 170C/320F.


Wash out the cavity of the turkey to ensure all entrails have been removed. Pat the turkey dry with kitchen towel.


Mix together the butter, lemon juice and grated peel and thyme leaves. Using your hands, very gently separate as much of the skin on the turkey breast away from the flesh, being careful not to tear the skin. Stuff the butter mix between the skin and the flesh smoothing it along the length of the breast as far as you can go.


There will be some butter mix remaining, so use this to rub all over the skin, including the legs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the turkey with tin foil for the first hour of cooking. Put the peeled onion and orange halves into the cavity.


Place in the oven. Remove the tin foil after one hour, and continue to cook, testing the meat after two hours by placing a knife tip or skewer into them eat just above the leg.


The turkey should take 3 hours to cook, but as ovens vary, it is best to test after 2 hours, 2½ hrs and again at 3 hours, until the juices run clear.


We all have our favourite vegetables, so choose which ever ones you want. Here we have just given a few ideas, slightly different to the traditional plain vegetables.

Brussel Sprouts

Top, tail and wash your sprouts, removing any yellowish leaves. Boil for l5 minutes or until slightly tender. Drain.
Finely chop a small red onion and sauté in butter in a frying pan. Place the sprouts in the pan and stir on a low heat. Add some chopped walnuts or brazil nuts and continue stirring until everything is mixed together. Keep warm.

Glazed Caraway Carrots

Wash and peel carrots and slice into batons. Braise in water and a large knob of butter with a dash of orange juice on the top of the oven. When soft enough, add the caraway seeds for just a few minutes. Drain and reserve some of the liquid. Toss in a little more butter and keep warm.

Petit Pois a la Francaise

Finely slice either green onions or some shallots. Place a little butter in the bottom of the pan and soften the onions. Put in the peas and the required amount of water and bring to the boil.Drain the peas and keep warm.

Roast Potatoes

Peel, wash and cut potatoes into required size. Boil until slightly soft on the outside, drain and toss in either seasoned flour or semolina. Roast in the oven using goose fat for really delightful crispy roast potatoes.

Stuffing Balls

Rather than go to the trouble of making more breadcrumbs, use a store bought packet of lemon and thyme or sage and onion stuffing. Mix with sausage meat, chopped celery and finely diced onion and mold into balls, using water to slacken the mix. 20 minutes before your turkey has finished cooking, place the stuffing balls around the bird to crisp up.


When you have finished cooking the bird, drain off the top layer off at from the juices. Place the baking tray on the top of the oven, and bring up to almost boiling, scraping the juices or sticky bits from the bottom. Add enough freshly made store bought chicken stock(or make your own before hand if you have time), and the onion from the inside cavity of the turkey. Continue to stir everything around until thoroughly blended. If you want thicker gravy, add some more stock cubes. Squeeze the juice out of the onion and discard. Pour gravy into a container and keep warm.

This is a really stress free way of getting Christmas lunch on the table, but do try other ideas of your own!

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