Turkey is a staple meat for the festive period, but finding the perfect recipe to ensure the juiciest, most flavourful turkey that the family will talk about for years to come is challenging. Or it was. Lee from Smoke and Sear has created this incredible Christmas turkey recipe. See exactly how he does it below.
The Perfect Christmas Turkey
- You should start to defrost the turkey 4 days before cooking. This is done by placing the turkey in the fridge, ensuring it’s positioned on a tray to catch drippings. Check the meat has fully defrosted by ensuring there are no ice crystals inside the cavity, and by taking temperature readings in multiple places. The temperature should be between 0C and 4C.
- Prepare the festive brine by combining all the brining ingredients in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Leave the brine to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, move the brine to a large food-safe bucket or container. Submerge the turkey and ensure its fully covered and submerged. Store in the fridge for 12-24 hours, aiming for the full 24 hours if possible.
- Carefully remove the turkey from the brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter, minced garlic, chopped herbs, lemon zest, and pepper to create a herb butter.
- Gently separate the skin from the turkey breast with your fingers. Apply a generous and even layer of herb butter underneath the skin, covering the entire exterior of the turkey. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking.
- Set up your grill with quality lump wood charcoal and light the charcoal to heat the grill until it gets to a steady 163C. Use a roasting rack to ensure better heat circulation around the turkey. Place the turkey on the grill breast side up. Pour a cup of chicken or turkey broth into the roasting pan below the turkey.
- Cook the turkey for roughly 2.5 to 3 hours, basting it every 30 mins with a mix of melted butter, orange juice, and honey. For safety and optimal results, ensure the thickest parts of the meat reach an internal temperature of 74C.
- Once cooked, remove the turkey from the grill and place it on a carving board. Loosely tend the turkey with aluminium foil, allowing it to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Start your carving process by detaching the legs and thighs, followed by the wings. When carving the breast meat, make sure you slice against the grain.
- Present the carved pieces on a serving platter.
- One 4.7kg frozen free range bronze turkey
- 500g unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage), finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Quality lumpwood charcoal
- ½ cup melted unsalted butter (for basting)
- Juice of 1 orange (for basting)
- 2 tbsp honey (for basting)
For the brine
- 1 cup salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 litres water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4-star anise
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp juniper berries
- A small bunch of fresh thyme and rosemary
What to serve with Christmas turkey
There are so many amazing and iconic side dish options to serve with your Christmas turkey including:
- Pigs in blankets
- Chestnut, bacon, and cranberry stuffing
- Roast potatoes
- Mashed potatoes
- Yorkshire puddings