Phil Vickery’s saffron turkey with stuffing recipe

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serves: 12
Skill: medium
Cost: expensive
Prep: 30 min
Cooking: 3 hr 22 min
(based on a 5.6k turkey)

Nutrition per portion

Calories 458 kCal 23%
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  • This saffron turkey comes with a fruity, festive pork stuffing perfectly complements the special taste of the herb.

    Saffron threads are the dried stigma from the centre of a crocus flower. The reason good saffron is so expensive is because each plant has just three threads, which have to be harvested by hand. Consequently, saffron is the most highly prized herb in the world. Luckily, a little really goes a long way. The reward is a gorgeous, golden, butter-basted roast with that characteristic musky, floral richness. It is something a little different for Christmas Day. Serve your saffron turkey with all the usual trimmings.


    • For the stuffing:
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 50g butter
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only, chopped
    • 100g cooked wild and long grain rice
    • 50g dried cranberries
    • 100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
    • 175g fresh white breadcrumbs
    • 6 good quality pork and herb sausages, skinned
    • 1 lemon, finely grated rind
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • For the turkey:
    • 5.6kg British turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 50g butter
    • ½ tsp saffron threads


    • Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan and fry the onion and rosemary for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining stuffing ingredients until well combined. Season.

    • Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Melt the butter for the turkey in a small saucepan, stir in the saffron threads and leave to cool slightly.

    • Push some of the stuffing into the neck end of the bird packing it right up to the breast meat. Secure the neck skin with cocktail sticks. Roll the remaining stuffing into balls (these can be cooked separately for 30 minutes)

    • Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 20 minutes per kg + 90 minutes at the end. Push the lemon halves and bay leaf into the cavity and place in a roasting tin. Brush the whole bird with the saffron butter and season well. Cover with foil and roast. 

    • Remove the foil and baste with any remaining saffron butter and roast uncovered for the last hour of cooking time. To check to see if the turkey is cooked push a metal skewer into the thickest part of the leg – if the juices run clear the turkey is cooked if the juices are slightly pink pop back into the oven for a further 15 minutes before checking again. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.

    Top tips for Phil Vickery’s saffron turkey with stuffing recipe

    • It’s worth getting the best quality saffron you can for this recipe. Generally darker red threads with orange tips have the best taste and fragrance. Beware of anything very dark red which seems like a bargain - it has probably been dyed.
    • For more information on cooking times, how big a bird to buy and everything else you need to know about cooking a turkey, take a look at our Ultimate Christmas Turkey Guide.

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