A dry-brine is the secret to a perfectly juicy turkey: the salt helps retain moisture while the bird is cooking and tenderises the meat at the same time. Win-win!
100g sea salt flakes
100g light brown sugar
30g cracked black pepper
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 bunch thyme (or rosemary, marjoram or oregano)
3 onions, peeled and quartered
4 garlic heads, halved crosswise
100ml olive oil
120g unsalted butter
80ml (4 tbsp) maple syrup
Herby pan sauce
200g parsley, finely chopped
50g thyme leaves, finely chopped
25ml (¼ cup) lemon juice, plus more to taste
1. To prepare the turkey, place the salt, sugar, pepper and dried chilli flakes in a medium bowl and mix.
2. Place the turkey in a roasting dish lined with a wire rack (or just place the turkey directly in the dish). Make sure all the innards are removed from the cavity. Using paper towels, pat the turkey dry all over. Sprinkle evenly with the salt mixture. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 8–24 hours – the longer, the better.
3. Preheat oven to 150C (130C fan-forced).
4. Remove turkey from fridge, and transfer to a clean roasting dish (discard any liquid that has accumulated in the first dish). Stuff turkey with thyme and a few onion quarters. Scatter remaining onion and all of the garlic around the turkey.
5. Combine olive oil, butter and maple syrup in a small pot over medium heat and saucepan until butter is melted. Pour half of the mixture over the turkey and onion. Toss the onion quarters lightly to evenly coat, and season everything with salt and pepper.
6. Roast, rotating the dish every hour or so, for 2½ to 3 hours or until the turkey has reached 70C when a meat thermometer is inserted in the deepest part of the thigh. The turkey will be cooked through and tender, and the skin will be brown, but you can and should get it browner.
7. Increase oven temperature to 220C (200C fan-forced). Pour remaining half of butter mixture over the turkey (warm it slightly if solidified) and continue to cook for 20–25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 73C and the skin is very deeply browned all over. (If you find the skin is browning too quickly, especially on the top at the breast, feel free to place a sheet of foil over the breast.)
8. Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest on the tray for 20–30 minutes. Tip the turkey, cavity-side down, making sure the aromatics stay inside the cavity, and let any juices run out into the roasting dish. (This is what will be used to make the sauce.)
9. Transfer the turkey, along with the roasted onion and garlic, to a large serving platter (alternatively, use two of your largest plates). Let it continue to rest while you make the sauce.
10. To make the sauce, use a spatula to scrape up the bits from the turkey drippings, just like you're deglazing a pan, and transfer to a medium bowl. Remove the garlic cloves from half the roasted garlic and coarsely chop or mash into a paste. Add garlic paste, parsley, thyme and lemon juice to bowl and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice, if you like.
11. To serve, carve the turkey and place back on the large platter (or two plates) with the remaining garlic and onion. Sprinkle with salt and serve with the sauce and spicy roasted pumpkin.
This recipe features in our ultimate Christmas feast