I have already been quoted in US Ski Magazine as someone who
'Chirps about happy chickens!' So here are some pointers on how to
roast a turkey…
First and foremost get an organic, fresh, hormone free, 'happy'
Turn on the oven and preheat it to 300F or 150C.
Happy, organic, free-range poultry cooks quicker than
the force-fed, mass-produced product so the aim should be to
thoroughly cook the turkey whilst leaving the inside moist and
succulent. If you are stuffing the bird be sure to do this
just prior to cooking and cook for 12 minutes per pound - so
for instance a 16 pound bird will take around 3 and a bit hours. If
you decide to stuff the cavity, add an extra 30 minutes or so to
the cooking time.
Here is where I might differ slightly from convention. Turn the
bird onto its breasts and with both hands placed flat on top, push
down really firmly (like you're performing CPR) until you hear
some cracking of the smaller bones in the chest cavity. This will
help the juices in the bones to baste the bird from the inside
Roast the bird 'upside down' for the first 2 hours on parchment
paper to prevent any sticking and therefore preserving the precious
skin that will later be crisped and browned before carving.
After two hours or so, dice some carrot, leek, celery and
onions. Roughly tear some sage leaves, some bay leaves and a few
sprigs of thyme and place in the roasting tray. Now flip your bird
over so it's 'breasts up'! (No sniggering now.) Cover the whole
turkey in good quality smoked streaky bacon and put back into the
oven with the vegetables having carefully removed the parchment
Be sure to baste regularly with the juices that will form in the
pan after a couple of hours and coat the vegetables with
this too. This is going to be the basis for a really good
After 2 ½ hours, turn your oven up to 450F or 230C, remove the
bacon and carefully brown the skin whilst continuing to baste
regularly. After 3 to 3 ½ hours (depending on your oven) check the
turkey is just cooked through by inserting a sharp knife into the
thickest part of the dark leg meat. The juices should be running
clear at this stage with no traces of bright red blood. If not, put
the turkey back into the oven and check every twenty minutes or so,
don't panic if it needs as much as another hour as you have already
begun cooking the bird in such a way that will help to prevent
Once you are satisfied it is cooked, keep the turkey hot by
wrapping in heavy-duty aluminium foil.
Now for the gravy....
Deglaze the roasting pan with half a bottle of good quality dry
white wine and transfer the contents into a saucepan whilst
straining out the roasted vegetables (keep these for making stock
later). Up the heat and reduce this stock by half whilst straining
off any unwanted fat from the surface. Add a good tablespoon of
Now we are going to get a little 'cheffy', so bear with me, it's
worth it. To thicken the sauce, you are going to 'mount' the sauce
with something called 'monter au beurre' which is basically a
stabilized butter that won't split with the heat of the sauce and
will give you professional, glossy, wonderful gravy.
To do this, simply heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of water
whilst carefully whisking in cubes of cold butter and 1
tablespoon of plain flour so you end up with an emulsification of
butter, flour and water.
So go ahead and 'mount' the sauce with this mix and stir
occasionally whilst the potatoes roast, the vegetables steam and
the turkey takes a well-earned rest!
Carve the turkey neatly by taking each breast off and carefully
carving in thin neat slices, arrange on a large platter with the
leg meat in larger slices, the 'roasties' and the stuffing balls. I
also like to wrap chipolata sausages in bacon ('pigs in a blanket')
and of course serve with a jug of shiny, amazing gravy.
Good luck, have a 'Happy Turkey' and I look forward to writing
to give you some more foodie ideas again soon.
Peter Hughes is the Executive Chef at Bighorn in Revelstoke, recently
crowned 'The World's Most Exclusive Chalet'' by the Financial Times
'How to spend it', 'The King of all Heli Lodges'' by the Robb
Report and the ''Apex of the Apex!'' by Forbes Life.