Spiced and super-juicy roast turkey

Serves 12

Preparation time overnight

Cooking time 1 to 2 hours

For the turkey
4-5kg/9-11¼lb turkey
6 litres/10 pints 11fl oz water
125g/4¼oz packet table salt
3 tbsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp caraway seeds
4 cloves
2 tbsp allspice berries
4 star anise
2 tbsp white mustard seeds
200g/7oz caster sugar
2 onions, quartered
1 x 6cm/3in piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
1 orange, quartered
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp clear honey
handful fresh parsley, optional (only if you’ve got some parsley hanging around)
For the basting glaze
75g/2¾oz butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1. For the turkey, place the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the turkey 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.)
2. Untie and remove any string or trussing attached to the turkey, shake it free and add it to the liquid. Add more water if the turkey is not completely submerged. Keep the mixture 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 wiping it dry with kitchen-towel) a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys – indeed this is the case for all meat – should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you’re at all concerned – the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird – then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires.
3. For the basting glaze, place the butter and syrup into a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until the ingredients have melted and combined.
4. Brush the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically through out the turkey roasting time.
5. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Cook the turkey for half an hour at this relatively high temperature, then turn the oven down to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and continue cooking, turning the oven back up to 220C/425F/Gas 7 for the last quarter of an hour or so if you want to give a final, browning boost to the skin. For a 4-5kg turkey, allow two-and-a-half to three 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.
6. Just as it’s crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it’s important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it.

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