Citrus fruits in all their permutations play a huge part in the local cuisine, all the way from starters to desserts and enhance and counterbalance many other flavours. I already use juicy oranges and lemons in poultry dishes, so it was only natural to give it a go with the big bird. To give it another dimension I used Thyme, a herb that grows abundantly in every forest and garden in Provence and is delicious with so many dishes, but I think works particularly well with tangy citrus.
To make sure the Turkey stays succulent I will create an orange, thyme and olive oil butter to insert under the skin and baste the bird with, and to add some flavour carrying fats. The dish is perfectly complemented by the root vegetable gratin which adds a plethora of tastes as well as a nice little creaminess and the bird’s juices will produce a naturally divine orange and herb flavoured gravy.
To feed 4 + (adjust bird weight and vegetable weights for larger parties):
- 1 Medium sized turkey- 2.5-3kg/5,5-6,6 pounds
- 2 oranges
- 50 grams/1.7 oz of butter- leave it to soften
- bunch of Thyme (dried will do fine if you cannot get it fresh)
- 3 large potatoes, two suedes, one celeriac, two beetroots
- 300 ml/11 fl oz tub of single cream
Set the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 F and prepare a large baking tray for the bird. Wash your bird and pat dry with kitchen paper.
To prepare the orange and Thyme butter, take 50 grams of softened butter and stir in some olive oil and sea salt to make a thick paste. Add some chopped orange skin from one orange and take the Thyme leaves off the stems and add a good amount to make it really flavoursome.
Take your turkey and make a horizontal incision at the rear end of the breasts just to cut through the skin. Gently put your fingers, and then your hand as far as you can to gently loosen the skin from the breast- it’s a bit unpleasant, but worth it! Then insert the butter under the skin and massage in as far as you can, all over the breasts and down the sides and baste the whole bird with the rest. Cut the second orange in two and place into it’s back-cavity.
Put the turkey into the oven to start cooking, this size takes just under 3 hours, but make sure to cook it precisely by its actual weight. For a Turkey weighing in excess of 4kg/9lb you should estimate 20 minutes/kg or 9 minutes/pound + 90 minutes extra. For a Turkey weighing less estimate 20 minutes/kg or 9 minutes/pound + 70 minutes extra. Double check that the juices run clear where the thigh meets the body, which is a good indicator that it is really cooked.
Once you put the turkey in the oven get prepping your vegetables, though you are in no rush given the ample turkey cooking times.
Peel all your vegetables and slice thin-ishly. Grab a ceramic baking dish and start layering them randomly to vary the look and taste. Season with salt and pepper at every layer, but be gentle as it can add up. Once you’ve reached near the top of the dish pour over the cream to cover completely, it will keep the vegetables nice and moist and reduce down to a thick sauce during cooking. You can add chopped parsley and cheese for some extra yumminess. The gratin normally takes about 75-90 minutes, you may want to turn the temperature down slightly after 45 minutes to make sure it doesn’t turn to mash.
Once the bird is done, let it rest with an aluminium foil cover for 15-20 minutes. Lift up the bird a bit to to pour out the juices and transfer into a small pan or pot. Top up with a quality chicken stock cube, a sprig of thyme, a bit of water and half a spoon of Maize flour and let the gravy reduce for a few minutes. Take the thyme out and season if necessary.
Take out the gratin and warm the plates for a few minutes while you carve the Turkey. Distribute dark and light meat evenly on each plate, it’s lovely to serve both types, and serve with a big spoon of the root vegetable gratin. Pour the gravy over the food and put the rest on the table for top ups. Any green vegetable side will be a nice complement.
We paired this dish with our gorgeous Pure Rosé, which was perfect with the subtle turkey and tangy sweet orange flavours and complemented them beautifully with its elegant summer berry and citrus flavours.
We hope you enjoy this little Mediterranean twist on this classic festive dish.