Vickys Maple Roast Turkey/Chicken, Gluten, Dairy, Egg & Soy-Free Christmas

1 large turkey, around 6kg/14lbs, (or roaster chicken) giblets removed

2 lemons, halved

100 grams sunflower spread / butter

2 medium onions, peeled and quartered

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

12 slice streaky bacon or pancetta

6 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour

400 ml hot chicken or turkey stock
Directions 300 minutes

1. Preheat the oven to gas 6 / 200C / 400°F

2. Mix the juice of 1 of the lemons with 3/4 of the butter, melted. Set aside the squeezed lemon halves, we’ll use them in a minute.

3. Fry the onion quarters in the rest of the butter on a low heat for 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

4. Making sure the giblets have been removed first, fill the turkey/chicken cavity with the onions, the squeezed and unsqueezed lemon shells and the thyme sprigs. Close and secure with a cocktail stick.

5. Slid your fingers under the skin around the neck, over the breast meat and spoon some of the lemon butter into the pockets you’ve made. Rub the rest over the skin, not forgetting the legs and wings.

6. Slice the bacon in half lengthwise if it’s wide and arrange over the breast in a lattice pattern. It will shrink back a bit during cooking. Cover loosely with foil if you don’t have a roasting pot with a lid.

7. For turkeys/chicken over 4kg/9lbs, allow 20 minutes per kg (first 20 minutes at a higher temp), plus 90 minutes with the oven slightly lower. For birds under 4kg/9lbs the time is still 20 minutes per kilo but then only 70 minutes to finish.

8. So based on my 6kg roaster chicken shown, cook it for 20 minutes at the preheated temp, then reduce the oven down to gas 4 / 180C / 350°F and cook for another 4 hours (last half hour step below).

9. Mix the maple syrup with the cinnamon and 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the lid / foil and brush the syrup mixture over the bird. Return to the oven uncovered for the final 30 minutes.

10. To test if it’s ready, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices are clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink, return it to the oven for another 15 minutes and keep checking until cooked. Once cooked, tilt the tray gently so any juices run out into the corner.

11. Transfer the roast to a platter and cover in foil. Put a tea towel on top to keep it warm and leave to rest for 20 minutes while you get on with the gravy.

12. To make the gravy, skim the fat from the juices in the roasting tin and discard, then stir in the flour. There will be quite a lot of fat because of the butter. Cook on the stove top for 4 minutes, stirring, then gradually stir in the stock until thickened. Heat until simmering, stir, then serve.

13. This size of bird will feed a good 12 – 14 adults.

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