Posted in: How To
Perfect Your Christmas TurkeyChristmas is just around the corner and with the most popular Christmas dinner option being a perfectly roasted turkey, we thought it was high time we shared our top turkey tips to make sure that your Christmas dinner goes without a hitch. From choosing the right bird for your brood to prepping, cooking and even tips on how to achieve that crispy golden skin that everyone will be fighting over, we’ve put together our ultimate guide to help you perfect the centrepiece to your Yuletide feast!
Buying the Bird
WeightThe first thing you need to take into account before buying your turkey is how many people you’re cooking for. A good rule of thumb is that you need around 500g of turkey per guest, so for four people, you’ll need a 2kg turkey. It’s always a good idea to buy one with a little more than you need as everyone loves watching Boxing Day telly with a turkey sandwich in hand!
WelfareAs they say, the happier the bird, the tastier the turkey. To ensure that your bird has had the very best treatment, you’ll want to look for a turkey with high welfare assurances. Organic turkeys tend to be slow-growing heritage breeds that are free range and fed on organic, non-GM feed. Free-range turkeys are free to roam during the day and fed grain while Traditional Free-Range tend to be slower growing heritage breeds fed on a high cereal diet.
Frozen or Fresh?The next decision is whether to opt for fresh or frozen. A fresh turkey will keep in the fridge for up to two days while a frozen turkey can be more convenient as you can buy in advance and keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to cook. Just remember with a frozen turkey, you need to allow enough time for it to defrost fully. Defrost in a fridge, at around 4C and allow at least 4 hours for every 450g.
Crispy SkinGolden crispy skin with succulent, juicy white meat is the aim when it comes to the perfect Christmas turkey. To achieve this, soften around 175g of butter and spread it over the breast and legs, being careful not to cause any tears in the skin. Season well with sea salt and ground black pepper and allow to reach room temperature for around an hour before roasting- this ensures even cooking and will help the turkey to cook even faster!
Get Stuffed!Cooking the bird with stuffing inside the cavity is a great way to infuse flavours into the meat while creating a delicious side dish at the same time. Make sure that you leave room between the stuffing and the breast bone of the turkey to allow the heat of the oven to reach all areas of the meat. Before stuffing, make sure that the stuffing itself is cool and only stuff the cavity just before roasting.
TimingsFirst of all, establish the weight of your turkey. If it’s under 4kg a good rule of thumb is to cook for 20 minutes per kg + 70 minutes. Over 4kg, cook for 20 minutes per kg + 90 minutes.
SizzlePreheat your oven to 200°C then place your turkey into a large roasting pan like the Tower Roaster & Rack, placing the bird itself into the rack to allow the juices to drip down to the pan below (you can use these later for the gravy!). Place the turkey in the oven for 15 minutes to begin with, then lower the temperature to 180°C. Cooking at an initially high temperature caramelises the fat without drying out the meat giving you that beautifully crisp, golden skin.
BastingEvery 30 minutes throughout cooking, remove the turkey from the oven and use a spoon or turkey baster to redistribute the juices from the pan below, pouring them back over the turkey. This keeps the breasts of the turkey nice and juicy and the meat flavoursome.
Is it Done?Your turkey will be fully cooked when the juices run completely clear. Take a small knife and insert into the thickest part of the meat (between the breast and the thigh bone). If the juices that run out are completely clear, the turkey is cooked. If there is any hint of pink, place it back into the oven for a further 15-20 minutes.
Rest & CarveLeaving your turkey to rest covered in foil for 30 minutes after cooking lets the juices soak back into the meat and lets the meat relax, preventing dryness. When you’re ready to carve, get yourself a large wooden board, a carving fork and long carving knife (this makes it simple to create those long smooth strokes you need for the perfect slice!). Start by removing the wing and the legs – the darker meat is often thought to be the most flavoursome so arrange these on a large platter. To create slices, secure the meat as much as you need to with the carving fork and use the knife to create long slices across the breast meat (around 0.5cm is perfect!) placing each slice onto the platter. Those are our fool proof tips for cooking a Christmas turkey that Mrs. Claus would be proud of! If you have any turkey tips of your own, we’d love to hear them on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.
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