750 ml water
1 x 4,8 kg whole turkey, fully defrosted and ready to be coated at room temperature
6 lemons, halved
A big bunch of fresh thyme
100 g butter
30 ml flaked sea salt
5 ml smoked paprika
15 ml fresh thyme
30 ml canola oil
30 ml honey
A few drops sriracha
To cook the turkey: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lower the oven rack to create enough room for the turkey so it’s not too close to the top element. Place 4 cups of water in a roasting pan to create a bain-marie. Now place a wire rack on top of the bain-marie. Loosely and partially cover the rack with foil – do not completely line the rack with the foil. The effect should be not to fully cover the water in the bain-marie that will hold the turkey. While you want the water to be able to steam and escape, you don’t want those wonderful juices that will form once cooking starts to be lost in the bain marrie.
Tie the turkey winglets together at the back tightly and tie the legs by crossing them together. Proceed to stuff the turkey with the lemons and thyme leaves.
Gently loosen and lift the skin of the turkey without breaking or pricking holes in it.
To make the spicy butter: Mix the butter with the salt, paprika and thyme. Generously rub this mixture between the turkey meat and the skin you have just loosened and lifted. Make sure to get it under the skin evenly and beautifully.
To make the coating: Mix the oil, honey and sriracha. Coat the turkey with this roasting-glaze-in-the-making by brushing the whole turkey with it. Place the turkey with the breast side down in the prepared roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour until golden in colour. Turn the turkey breast side up and baste again. Continue cooking for 1 hour until the breast is golden. Cover with foil and cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through.
The meat juices should run clear when the thickest parts of the thigh and breast are pricked with a thin skewer until you reach the bone. Remove from heat and rest for 30 minutes, covered, before serving. Carve and serve.
I roast turkey with the breast side down first to achieve an even, golden colour on the back and sides. Then I turn the turkey and cook the breast side, basting in between. Adding the butter under the skin injects a herby succulence to the bird. But, since the butter tends to burn quickly, I cover the turkey with foil for the last 10 minutes so that the skin does not brown (or dry out) too much.