Jane Devonshire's Christmas Recipes

Main Course
My Stress Free Christmas Turkey

15lb , 6.5kg bird approx. 

700g thick cut smoked bacon

400g unsalted softened butter

2 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper

1 tbsp. chopped fresh sage (1x tsp. dried)

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (2x tsp. dried)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon 


Sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil)


Turkeys should be cooked from room temperature. I take mine out of the fridge when I get up Christmas morning.


  1. Combine the butter, salt and pepper, chopped herbs, lemon zest from the whole lemon and 1/2 juice of the lemon in a large bowl.                                                                                 

  2. Place the turkey onto the oven tray and place the remaining lemon into the cavity and a good handful of the fresh sage and parsley. Take the softened butter and liberally smear it over the entire turkey (not the base) paying particular attention to the legs, wings and breast areas.                                                                             

  3. Once the turkey covered in the butter, cover it completely with the bacon. Take the tin foil and carefully wrap the bacon covered legs and wings so they don’t burn.  Put a large piece of foil over the top of the bird but not tightly; give it room to breathe. Put a good glug of oil in the bottom of the pan to stop the butter from burning when it melts.                                                                                     

  4. Place in oven at gas mark 6 /180C (356F) for 45 minutes.                                                                                     

  5. Remove turkey baste, recover with foil, turn gas down to gas mark 4 cook for a further 1½ hours basting occasionally and then take out about 1 hour before end of cooking time.                                                                        

  6. Remove the foil from the breast, take the bacon* off the bird and put to one side. I tend to leave the foil on the legs to stop them burning and drying out they have always gone a lovely golden colour. Baste and return turkey to oven to crisp and become a wonderful golden colour. Cook for another 45 – 60 minutes approximately (SEE TIP) Cook until the juices run clear.                                                       

  7. Remove from oven and rest for at least 45 minutes in a warm spot before carving.


It is very difficult to give exact timings on cooking turkeys. If you buy free range from a farm the breast of the turkey won’t be as large and consequently the cooking times will not be as long.  If you are worried invest in a meat thermometer. They can be easily sourced online and will give you the confidence to know it’s perfect every time.  The recommended temp is 75 C (167 F) in the breast. The great thing is turkeys need to be rested for a while before serving so timings on other vegetables and sides can be flexible. 

*Jane says... My whole family gather round to feast on the bacon its wonderful really crispy and crunchy with a real flavour impact. It’s the start of Christmas lunch for the kids. I think they prefer it to the main event sometimes.

I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the main Christmas lunch but with this recipe you can add all sorts of flavours to the butter, garlic, smoked paprika, Indian flavourings, chilli etc. It really is up to you.

Photo: © Peter Cassidy

© 2016 Jane Devonshire

All Rights Reserved


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