Roast turkey with tangy yellow mustard sauce

Turkey is still top choice when it comes to Christmas lunch. Add some extra depth and flavour to yours this year


Preparation time: 24 hours
Cooking time: 1 hour


3kg turkey (feeds 6)

A large non-reactive metal container big enough to fit your entire turkey with room for liquid.

A meat thermometer, or a digital probe.

A roasting tray with a rack large enough to hold the turkey.

Why Brine?

Brining improves your turkey’s ability to retain moisture. Muscle proteins are naturally tenderised by the salt in the brine solution. Once these proteins spend some time in the salty brine, the muscle structure of the meat loses some of its ability to contract when cooking. Less contraction leads to less moisture being squeezed out during cooking which leads to juicier meat in the cooked bird.

Brining also seasons the meat from the inside, giving a more rounded seasoned flavour than just salting before cooking. It makes your turkey taste more of turkey if you will.


For the brine:

6.75l water

675g salt

675g light brown sugar

Half a bunch of thyme or rosemary

5 bay leaves

12 peppercorns

12 cloves

3 or 4 star anise

10 all spice berries

2 large sticks cinnamon

2 thumb sized pieces ginger, sliced, skin on

For the roasting

250g unsalted butter, room temperature

Black pepper

Zest of one large orange

2 Tablespoons dried sage

2 tbsp yellow mustard

For the mustard sauce:

1kg yellow mustard

500g cider vinegar

350g light brown sugar

1½ tsp paprika

1½ tsp worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp cayenne

1½ tsp black pepper


In a medium heat dry pan, toast the spices and ginger for a minute or two, shaking them around until they smell aromatic. Remove from the heat.

In a large pot big enough to hold everything, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the sugar, salt and spices and stir until all the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add in the half the bunch of thyme or rosemary.

Allow to cool completely, you do not want the brine to be warm when you add your turkey.

Remove the turkey from its packaging and untie the legs if they have been trussed up with string. This will allow the brine to season the turkey more quickly.

Once the brine is cold, add the turkey using a couple of plates to weigh it down so it stays completely covered.

Refrigerate for 24 hours, flipping the turkey over once after 12 hours.

Once your turkey’s time is up, remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.


Preheat oven to 220°C/R7.

Place your turkey in the roasting tray.

In a bowl, beat together the room temperature butter, mustard and orange zest with some freshly ground black pepper. Add in the sage and mix. Cut your orange into wedges and place in the cavity of the bird.

Now with clean hands starting at the neck, work your fingers gently up under the skin of the bird, separating the skin from the breast meat but taking care not to tear the skin.

Once the skin has been separated from the breast meat you can feed in your flavoured butter under the skin and massage it all over the breast meat. This will baste the turkey as it cooks. When you check the turkey as it roasts you can spoon any juices and butter that collect in the tray back over the bird to maximise colour and flavour.

Now place your turkey in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then check it is browning all over. Turn the oven down to 160°C/R3 and continue to cook until a meat thermometer or digital probe reads 66-68°C when inserted at the thickest part of the bird and the juices are running clear. Depending on the size of your bird, this usually takes around 15-20 mins for every pound in weight.

Once 66-68°C has been reached, remove the turkey from the oven and cover in a tent fashion with tin foil. The turkey will continue to cook for a while and the residual heat will push the internal temperature higher than the 68°C but doing this during resting makes sure your bird doesn’t overcook and dry out and stays juicy and moist. You want to rest it for at least 30 minutes.

Tangy yellow mustard sauce

  • Place all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to the boil. It’s important that while it is getting hot you whisk the sauce continuously until all the sugar has melted. If you don’t, it will sink and burn to the bottom of the pot.
  • Once the sugar is all dissolved and the sauce is boiling, turn down to a simmer and reduce the heat a little until the sauce has thickened slightly, around 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove and allow to cool.

Recipes and Images courtesy of

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