Buy a plump, young turkey bird. Look for a pliable breast bone. When you buy a fresh duck or goose, choose one with yellow feet and bill.
Poultry, with or without a stuffing, is often trussed. This is not necessary for most small birds and roasting chickens, but it helps keep a turkey in shape as it cooks.
After the turkey has been cleaned, put a savoury stuffing in the neck end. It is unwise to stuff the body cavity but put in a peeled apple, onion or orange with a little butter to give the bird extra flavour and to add moisture. Traditional accompaniments to poultry are: roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, chipolata sausages and gravy from the bird’s juices.
Stuff the neck end of a chicken with parsley and thyme, mixed with fresh breadcrumbs, and add a sageand-onion stuffing to duck or goose. For turkey use a chestnut stuffing. Use a bread sauce with chicken or turkey; a sweet-sharp apple sauce with duck. Serve cranberry sauce and grilled bacon rolls with guinea fowl and turkey.
After the bird has been prepared, pull the loose neck skin over the opening and fold the wings back over the skin. Push a skewer through the body, just behind the thighs. Secure the wings with string looped around the skewer and, turning the bird over, tie the thighs together.
Put the turkey on a grid in a roasting tin. Put it into the pre-heated oven, covered with butter or barded’ with rashers of streaky bacon so that it does not dry out during cooking. Turn it from time to time to make sure it is evenly cooked on all sides. Spoon out the juices from the pan to baste. Add a little cider halfway through cooking, to add flavour to duck and goose. You may cover the bird with a sheet of aluminium foil as it cooks, but take off to allow browning and crisping for the final 15-30 minutes. To test for ‘doneness’, push a skewer into the thigh. If the juices run clear, the bird is cooked. Let the bird stand for a while, keeping hot, to make carving easier.