Salt-Rubbed Turkey Recipe with Sage and Orange by Neven Maguire

This salt-rubbed turkey recipe is quite a ‘cheffy’ recipe that takes a little more effort, but it keeps the breast of the bird really juicy while the leg meat literally falls off the bone. Ask your butcher to do all the work for you and make sure he chops the neck and backbone into pieces for gravy. But if it all sounds like too much work, just use this method with the crown.


– 150g (5oz) Maldon sea salt or
– kosher salt
– 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
– 2 tbsp light brown sugar
– 1 tbsp black peppercorns
– finely grated rind of 4 oranges
– 1 x 5kg (11lb) turkey, legs and thighs, removed and wings cut from the breast
– 500g (18oz) duck or goose fat
– 1 large onion, cut into thick slices
– good handful of fresh mixed herbs, such as sage, rosemary and thyme
– 50g (2oz) butter, softened


1. Make the salt rub up to four days in advance. Grind the salt, sage, sugar and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar (or use
the end of a rolling pin in a bowl), then stir in the orange rind.
2. Put one-third of the salt rub into a large resealable bag and the remainder into another bag, then chill until needed. Put
the legs and wings into the bag with the third of the salt rub and massage it into the skin, then leave in the fridge for 24
hours or at least overnight.
3. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/gas mark ½).
4. Rinse off the salt rub and pat the legs and wings dry with kitchen paper. Put the duck or goose fat in a roasting tin large
enough to just fit everything comfortably and melt in the oven for 5 minutes, then add the turkey pieces, ensuring they are
5. Cook for 4 hours, until completely tender. Leave to cool, then cover and chill for up to three days.
6. The day before you want to eat, put the turkey crown into the other bag with the rest of the salt rub and massage it into the
skin and flesh. Chill overnight.
7. One hour before you want to cook it, remove the turkey crown and rinse, then pat dry with kitchen paper. Take
the legs and wings out of the fridge so that they will come easily out of the fat, then transfer to a roasting tin. You can
strain out the fat to use for your roast potatoes, if you like.
8. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5) and line a separate roasting tin with foil.
9. Set a wire rack on top of the foil-lined roasting tin and scatter over the onion and herbs. Sit the crown on top and
rub all over with the butter. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes, then cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and cook for 15 minutes, until cooked through and tender.
10. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil, then rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
11. Meanwhile, reheat the turkey legs and wings in the oven for 30 minutes, until heated through and the skin has become
nice and crispy. Add to the platter with the crown and carve into slices. Arrange on warmed plates with all the trimmings.


Christmas is the one time of the year where you want everything to be perfect. So, thank heaven for Neven and his fantastic new cookbook! People all over Ireland will turn to their most trusted chef, Neven Maguire, to help them deliver the perfect Irish Christmas.

The book is divided into two sections. Part 1 focusses on the big day, from Neven’s famous buttermilk turkey and perfect roast potatoes to traditional Christmas desserts. Part 2 covers the whole of the festive season including a Snowman Cake to make with the kids, St Stephen’s Day leftovers right through to a festive New Year’s Eve dinner. You’ll also find lots of fun ideas for edible gifts, party food and all the little extras that help make Christmas as special as it can be.

Neven’s Perfect Christmas is published by Gill Books and is available to purchase here.

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