Spiced & Super-Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe

This how-to for turkey roasting will come in handy for Christmas, Thanksgiving or Rosh Hashanah.

6 litres water, approx.
1 x 250 g packet Maldon salt/125 g table salt
3 tbsp black peppercorns
1 bouquet garni
2 tbsp white mustard seeds
7 oz. caster sugar
2 onions, peeled and quartered
1 x 2″ piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp caraway seeds
4 cloves
2 tbsp allspice berries
4 star anise
1 orange, quartered
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp runny honey
Stalks from a medium bunch of parsley, optional

2-1/2 oz. butter or goose fat
3 tbsp maple syrup


Step 1: Put the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the other brine ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck the pieces in.)

Step 2: Untie and remove any string or trussing from the turkey, shake it free, remove the giblets and put in the fridge, and add the bird to the liquid, topping up with more water if it is not completely submerged. Keep in a cold place, even outside, overnight or for up to a day or two before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid and wipe dry with kitchen towel, a good 40-50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys — indeed this is the case for all meat — should be room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you’re at all concerned — the cold water in the brine will really chill the bird — then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires. I think it’s virtually impossible to dry this one out.

Step 3: For the basting, melt the butter and syrup together slowly over a low heat. Paint the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout.

Step 4: Preheat the oven to 425°F and give the bird 1/2 hour’s roasting at this relatively high temperature, then turn the oven down to gas mark 355°F and continue cooking, turning the oven back up to 425°F for the last 1/4 of an hour if you want to give it a final, browning boost. For a 9-11 lb. turkey, I would recommend about 2 to 2-1/2 hours in total. But remember that ovens vary enormously, so just check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey’s cooked.

Step 5: Just as it’s crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes into the oven, it’s also important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it. Tent it with foil, and even longer won’t hurt it.

Weight of Bird Cooking Times
5 lb., 1-1/2 hours
8 lb., 1-3/4 hours
10 lb., 2 hours
12 lb., 2-1/2 hours
15 lb., 2-3/4 hours
17 lb., 3 hours
20 lb., 3-1/2 hours
25 lb., 4-1/2 hours

Reprinted with permission from Nigella Lawson’s Feast: Food That Celebrates Life (2006 Knopf Canada).