Roast Crown of Turkey with Legs Ballontine

This recipe is complicated but with all the hard work done in advance it makes for an impressive and perfectly cooked Christmas dinner. The legs and breast will take about the same time to cook, the gravy is made simply from the roasting juices and the stuffing is in the legs which you just slice to serve.

Preparing Turkey Crown from whole Turkey: Remove the wings: stretch them out and cut off at the elbow joint. Remove the wish bone: At the top of the breast (neck end) where there is a V, run your knife around the V shape and the wish bone, prying it out (removing the wish bone makes for easier carving). Remove the Legs: Hold the legs and pull away from the turkey to dislocate the hip joint. With a sharp chefs knife (a boning one if you have one), run the knife along the carcase where it meets the thigh and follow the meat on the carcass removing the leg. Remove the carcass under the breast bone so that you are just left with the crown (breast with breast bone). Refrigerate or freeze lower carcass with wings for stock.

Deboning Legs: To Remove the bone from turkey thigh and leg: Cut a slit lengthwise down the turkey leg and thigh, scrape down the bone removing the flesh being carefule not to break the skin. Repeat this process with the other leg and thigh. Remove any sinew and small bones. You should have 2 pieces of meat with skin for stuffing.

8-10 portions
Prep: 1 hour
Cook: 2-3 hours


Turkey Crown

  • 1x5-5.5kg freeh range organic turkey (legs removed for ballontine, leaving crown) see note
  • 150g butter
  • 5 garlic clove, crushed
  • 10 sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • pinch of saffron
  • olive oil


  • 2 turkey legs prepared for ballontine, see introduction
  • 200g turkey or chicken mince
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 100g thickly sliced streaky bacon (rindless) or pancetta, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tbsp mixed woody herbs, oregano, thyme and sage
  • 150g pork mince
  • 75g soft dried apricots, chopped
  • 50g pistachios, shelled
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • maldon salt or similar salt flake and ground black pepper


Turkey Ballontine

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat sauté the onions in the pan for 2-3 minutes until soft and transparent. Stir in the bacon and garlic cook for 1-2 minutes until the bacon is just cooked. Set aside to cool.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl, add the cooled a bacon mixture and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined.
  3. Butter two large rectangle pieces of foil (they need to be large enough for the turkey legs). Lay the boned turkey legs on the foil skin side down. Divide the stuffing into 2 and roll into a sausage shape. Place the stuffing lenghtwise on the centre of each leg. Fold the meat over to seal. Roll the foil and twist the ends, so the the legs are well wrapped and resemble crackers. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Turkey Crown

  1. Preheat oven to 190C
  2. Place the butter, garlic, sage and saffron in a bowl. Mix together until well combined. Using your hands carefully loosen the skin from the breast meat. Distribute the sage butter under the skin onto the breast meat.
  3. Place the turkey crown on a lightly oiled roasting tin, rub with olive oil, salt and paprika into the skin.
  4. Pour white wine over crown and place on the centre shelf of the preheated oven and roast for 2 hours, place the ballontines in the oven 30 minutes into the cooking time. Baster every 20-30 minutes, add a little water or more wine to the tray if it becomes dry. To test if ready place a sharp knife into the centre of the flesh the juices should run clear when ready. Remove from oven and place on chopping board, cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving. While resting prepare gravy with the roasting juices in the pan.

Ballontine to Cook

  1. Place the stuffed legs in a lightly oiled roasting tin pour over 300ml white wine and place in the centre of a preheated oven and roast for 1 hour turning half way through cooking. Remove the foil and roast for a further 20-30 minutes turning after 10-15 minutes so the leg is golden brown. If roasting with crown place in oven final 1-1/2 of its cooking time.


  1. Place the roasting tray over a moderate heat on the stove. Place a tablespoon of cornflour in a cup and stir in 4-6 tablespoons of the cooking juices until smooth (if too thick add a little water). Stir this into the roasting pan and continue to stir until thickened. Serve.

To Serve

  1. Place slices of turkey breast and ballontine on each plate, pour over a little gravy and accompany with roast vegetables and greens of your choice (Brussel Sprouts Winter and Green Beans in the Summer).