For many of us a turkey is the pride and joy of the festive season, but how many of us agonise over the basting, resting and roasting of this nemesis? So to ease the pressure I’m going to share my top tips for getting the most out of your Christmas bird!
So firstly, which turkey??
Ask your butcher for a turkey for the exact number of people you’re cooking for, There’s always too much food on Christmas Day, going large on the turkey really isn’t necessary, large turkeys take a long time to cook and if you’re not careful you’ll end up with a very dry unforgettable dinner
Always try to bring the turkey to room temperature before roasting, an hour or so should be plenty,remove the neck and giblets from the cavity and use these to roast your turkey on.
To stuff or not to stuff??
Definitely stuff! But stuff the neck cavity only as any stuffing inside the turkey will dramatically increase the cooking time and cause the breast to dry out.
Roast up or down??
The breast meat will dry out really quickly, I’d start roasting breast-side down, smear under the skin with butter, or if you just want to roast normally make sure you baste regularly.
Roast the turkey in a tray
Make sure you don’t waste the juices and crispy bits left in the tray these will all add fantastic flavour to your delicious gravy.
Rest or not to rest??
Always leave it to stand for at least an hour after cooking
Bacon on the breast meat or not??
Definitely Bacon over the breast meat, cook on a low heat this keeps the turkey as moist as possible. Increase heat for the last 20 minutes of cooking to crisp that bacon.
Whole turkey or boned out turkey??
For a nice juicy turkey I always bone out the turkey. This reduces the cooking time drastically, reduces waste, and makes it far easier to carve at the table. I then use the bones to make a stock for proper gravy, ask your butcher to do it! And don’t forget to ask for the bones!
Add vegetables and wine??
My mum used to cook it with veg in the bottom and a bottle of white wine then roasted it with a double layer of foil so it steams and was always juicy.
So, let’s cook that turkey!!
Put butter under the skin of your turkey and season the skin. Cover the breast with bacon.Place the giblets, bones and any vegetables into your roasting tray, Place the turkey on top, Cover with foil which you tuck under the turkey not over the tin!!.
Preheat the oven to 140C and then cook in the oven for 25 minutes per kg plus 2 1/2 hours This allows the turkey to cook gently ensuring a moist turkey at the end.
Half an hour before the end of the cooking time remove the foil and return to the oven to crisp the skin and bacon if you’re using.
Leave to rest for at least half an hour. This helps the meat to relax and moisten. If you wrap in foil, the turkey will stay warm for an hour. When you take your turkey out of the oven it will continue to cook.
How To check your Turkey is cooked
Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. If the turkey is cooked through the juices should run clear. If not cook the turkey for longer. Always check the turkey is cooked using this method Tip the turkey to let the juices run into the tin, use the juices to make the gravy, then place the turkey onto a warmed carving plate.
So there you go, not nearly as dramatic as you thought, follow my tips and you’ll have a fantastic delicious hassle free Christmas Day Turkey Feast