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Roast turkey with ancho chilli gravy

Main Christmas
Serves 8
Prep 15 min
Cook 3 hr 15 min

This turkey, dark and intense from its chilli paste, makes a dramatic Thanksgiving focal point. You can make the paste up to three days in advance and keep in a sealed container in the fridge. This goes really well with the charred braised beans and roast carrots.

Follow the full recipe


40g  ancho chillies (ie, about 2 or 3), stems removed
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
3 onions, peeled, 1 roughly chopped, the others cut into 4 wedges each
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tbsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp tomato paste
120ml olive oil
salt and black pepper
6-7kg whole turkey


  1. Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F. Put the anchos in a medium heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover. Weigh down the chillies with a saucer and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Discard the soaking liquid, then remove the chilli seeds and roughly chop the flesh. Put this in a food processor with the red chillies, chopped onion, garlic, spices, tomato paste, half the oil and a teaspoon of salt, and blitz smooth, scraping down the bowl as you go. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the remaining oil.
  2. Put the turkey giblets in a large, 38cm x 32cm baking tray with a slight lip, add the onion wedges and 500ml water, and top with a large roasting rack.
  3. Pat dry the turkey and season all over with two teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper; season the inside, too. Rub half the spice mix over the turkey, including the cavity and in between the breast and skin. Put the turkey on the rack, roast for an hour, then rotate and baste. Repeat every half hour or so, until it has cooked for two hours and 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear (if you have one, it should register 74C on a thermometer); if it gets too dark around the 90-minute mark, loosely cover with foil. Leave to rest (removing any foil) for 15 minutes, so its juices drop into the tray.
  4. Once the turkey has rested, set it on a platter or carving board. Discard the giblets from the tray, then add the remaining spice paste, 400ml water and a half-teaspoon of salt to the tray, and scrape up any stuck-on, flavoursome bits. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and slightly thickened, spoon into a jug and serve with the turkey.