Christmas Turkey Recipe by Chef John Burton-Race with Wine Suggestions

This year, Wine Trust is delighted to team up with twice Michelin Starred celebrity chef, John Burton-Race to bring you the ultimate turkey recipe complete with a deliciously tangy apricot stuffing.

When it comes to recipes, ease and effortless are John’s signature. We hope these simple steps will have the family applauding your turkey triumph on the big day.

Don’t forget to check our wine suggestions selected especially to match John’s festive showstopper.

For more of John’s recipes, his latest book, Homegrown by Father & Son, has 80 brand new recipes and is lavishly illustrated with sumptuous food photography. It is available now on Amazon.

Homegrown by Father & Son. A book by John & Pip Burton-Race by John  Burton-Race — Kickstarter
Homegrown by Father & Son, available on Kindle and paperback.

You can buy the book here!

Serves – 8

We all love a turkey for Christmas, so this recipe gives you a few ideas to help you on the big day!

Quite often, I find the legs and breast on such a large bird as a turkey cook at different times. When the legs are cooked the breast is under cooked, so I suggest removing the legs and boning them out.  Fill them with your stuffing of choice and then you can control the cooking.  Save all the bones from the bird to make a delicious gravy.

You will need:

  • 1 Turkey of 4 kg
  • A quantity of apricot stuffing
  • 100g butter
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Remove the wings, wish bone and back from the turkey. Keep the bones for the gravy.
  2. Pull the legs away from the body and cut along the natural line between the thighs and body to remove the leg joints in one piece. Put the turkey crown (both breast on the bone) and trimmed bones back in the refrigerator for use later.
  3. Remove the bones and sinew from both legs, using a sharp knife cut along the thigh and drumstick bone so that the bone is exposed. Slide the knife underneath the bone and cut along the underside to remove the entire bone.
  4. At the drumstick end of the meat you will see sinew just under the flesh. Cut this out with a sharp knife and make sure that there is none remaining. Repeat this process for the second leg. You will be left with two rectangular pieces of meat.
  5. Once the meat is clean of all sinew and bone, season the flesh side with salt and pepper. Take out the stuffing from the fridge and divide it equally between the two legs.
  6. Shape the stuffing into two fat sausage shapes and place them in the centre of each leg.
  7. With the stuffing in the middle, pull the sides of the meat up and around so that they enclose the stuffing.
  8. Lay a large piece of foil out on the work surface and grease it with butter. Lay the rolled – up leg across one end of the foil and sprinkle with some seasoning.
  9. Roll the foil around the leg so that it is tightly wrapped and squeeze both ends together so that it resembles a Christmas cracker. Repeat the process for the other leg. Refrigerate until needed.

For the apricot stuffing:

  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 30g butter
  • ½ bunch of sage, finely chopped
  • 400g sausage meat
  • 200g dried apricots, diced
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs 
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Sweat the onions and garlic in the butter until soft but not coloured. Stir in the sage and allow to cool.
  2. When cool put the mixture into a bowl and add the sausage meat. Mix the dried apricots, egg, and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper then refrigerate.

For the turkey crown:

Soften the 100g of butter and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to push the butter under the skin and set aside.

For the sauce:

  • 1 carrot, chopped 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stick, chopped 
  • 1 leek, (white part only) chopped
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 litre chicken stock 


  1. Preheat the oven 200C/Fan180C/400F/Gas 6. Chop the back and wing’s bones off the turkey into small pieces, put them in a roasting tray and roast until golden brown. Drain off any fat, then set the bones aside on a plate.
  2. Add the vegetables to the roasting tray with a little olive oil and roast until golden brown. Drain off any excess oil from the vegetables and mix them with the bones in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, thyme, and chicken stock.
  3. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and skim off the surfacing impurities and discard.  Turn down to gentle simmer and cook for about 1 hour.
  4. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, return it to another saucepan and reduce to the consistency to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. To cook the turkey crown pre-heat the oven to 200C/Fan180C/400F/Gas 6.
  6. Put the turkey crown in a roasting tray and place in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes.
  7. Turn down the oven to 180C/Fan160C/350F/Gas 4 and continue to cook the crown for about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. If the breast starts to colour too much cover it with foil.
  8. Put the stuffed turkey legs in another roasting tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. When the crown is cooked remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for least 15 minutes.
  10. Once the legs are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing the foil. Slice and serve immediately with the sauce and carved turkey breast.

Wine Suggestions

From Master of Wine, Nick Adams.

Crowd Pleaser: Percheron Chenin Blanc Viognier

This mildly tropical South African has the texture and flavours with the Chenin to match the turkey and the Viognier element is ideal with the Apricot stuffing.

“A dynamic duo of grapes which combine perfectly to provide great mid week and party drinking. One of the best value for money South African wines we have come across.”

Try Something Different: Malagousia Ktima Gerovassiliou

Superb and textural with matching apricot flavours for the stuffing, but also subtle spice and savouriness for the turkey and trimmings.

“This wonderful indigenous Greek grape variety almost died out- very much brought back to life in this Domaine. A touch of Viognier here in its ripe apricot character and hints of mango and pear.”

Treat Yourself: M3 Chardonnay Shaw & Smith

Textbook cool climate new world Chardonnay with delicate stone fruit, fine texture and lacy oak – a lovely marriage with all the component flavours of the turkey and stuffing.

“Genuinely fine and restrained Australian Chardonnay in a Burgundian style. Very pure, measured stone fruit and dissolved light toast and vanilla oak, with lifted acidity, make for a textural, rich, but balanced wine. Lovely vitality and mouth feel, with real definition and poise – one of the New World’s finest examples”