Once you get your bird home please handle it carefully, remove the giblets from the bird, place in a separate container and put both turkey and giblets in the refrigerator.
To get the best out of you bird on the special day remove it from the fridge leave to stand for 2 hours before cooking.
There are numerous good references for cooking the perfect turkey but there are one or two tricks we have learned over the years when cooking our own turkeys that ensure a successful Christmas dinner.
Place breast down in a roasting tin, this is because most of the fat deposits are on the back of the bird which will percolate down through the breast keeping it moist and filling the breast meat with flavour. Season the back of the bird with salt and pepper and place an onion in the body cavity for extra flavour. If using the giblets for gravy place in the pan to cook with the bird.
Cooking the turkey ‘upside down’ should help to keep it moist but a foil tent around it will guarantee that any moisture is kept in. Either way the turkey can be uncovered and turned (very carefully) breast side up to crisp the skin for the final half hour.
Many of the problems with dry turkeys are caused by overcooking – if the oven is at the right temperature and the turkey doesn't go in ‘fridge cold’ then the following times should apply.
Preheat oven to 180°C (Gas mark 4)
Cook for 20 minutes per kg and add 90 minutes cooking time at the end. For example:
|Turkey weight||Cooking time at 180°C||Rest time|
|4kg (8lb 13oz)||2hrs 50mins||30 mins|
|5kg (11lb 0oz)||3hrs 10mins||30 mins|
|6kg (13lb 4oz)||3hrs 30mins||30 mins|
|7kg (15lb 7oz)||3hrs 50mins||30 mins|
|8kg (17lb 10oz)||4hrs 10mins||30 mins|
|9kg (19lb 13oz)||4hrs 30mins||30 mins|
|10kg (22lb 1oz)||4hrs 50mins||30 mins|
|11kg (24lb 4oz)||5hrs 10mins||30 mins|
Our turkeys are accompanied by a pop-up turkey timer, insert the timer fully into the breast ½ to ¾ of an inch from the breast bone taking care not to touch any bone. When the timer pops up the turkey should be cooked through.
To ensure the turkey is cooked through insert a skewer into the deepest part of the thigh and when juices run clear remove from the oven. If the juices are still pink place back into the oven and keep checking at ten-minute intervals.
This is crucial; allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving, this allows the juices to settle back into the bird, the meat to relax and makes the bird much easier to carve. The stock left in the bottom of the pan is simply the best for making gravy. The simplest thing to do is to skim the excess fat from the top of the stock and scrape all the delicious crispy bits off the bottom of the roasting tin. Reheat the stock and carve the meat into the stock before serving. The liver can also be mashed into the stock to enrich the gravy.