How to Cook the Perfect Turkey for Christmas

Christmas TurkeyThe QuoteSearcher team were having a discussion about turkeys earlier this week; whether we like it or dislike it, for most of us, having a juicy roast turkey is a must for Christmas day.

Here are some tips for cooking the perfect turkey for Christmas:

Choosing the turkey

You want to make sure that the turkey is big enough to feed all your guests, but also making sure that it fits in your oven. It will be handy if you measure the space inside your oven and take the details to the supermarket or the butchers. You want to allow approximately 1lb 2oz (500g) of raw meat per person.

The most common turkeys that are available in the supermarket are battery-reared, intensely farmed ones. Although they may be cheap, the conditions of the birds would have had no or very little exposure to sunlight and hardly any exercise, which means that the taste will be noticeably poorer.

Getting a free-range turkey may be a better choice if you have the money, they are cheaper and just as good as organic ones. You may notice that free-range birds are less podgy than battery-reared birds, this is because they have led more active lives. However, the meat on the free-range turkeys is much more tasty and succulent, as they have been allowed to roam freely and happily and have been allowed to mature at a slower rate.

Top British turkey breeds to look out for this Christmas are Cambridge Bronze, Norfolk Black and Kelly Bronze. Bronze or black turkeys are known for smaller breasts and a more gamey flavour than white turkeys.

Preparation on Christmas Eve

Make sure you allow plenty of time for your turkey to defrost, if you are buying a frozen turkey. You can do this by removing all the packaging, cover loosely with foil and place in the bottom of the fridge on a tray the night before.

Once defrosted, remove any giblets and keep them covered in the fridge to make gravy.

Stuffing

If you decide to make your own stuffing, get some good quality Cumberland sausages and remove the skin. Next, fry a couple of onions with some Bramley apply (chopped up) in about 25g of butter until soft. Once cool, mix the ingredients together with the sausages, some chopped sage and a handful of breadcrumbs. Then pack it all in the turkey!

Cooking

Preheat your oven to gas mark 4/180C and calculate the cooking time (around 20 min per 1lb 2oz/500g).

To keep the turkey moist and achieving its maximum flavour, you may want to put stuffing between the skin a breast meat. Another idea would be to make a herb butter (with finely chopped fat-leaf parsley, rosemary and thyme) and without tearing the skin, carefully smear it underneath the skin.

If you don’t have much time, lay some strips of streaky bacon or pancetta over the turkey.

Place your turkey on a roasting tray and rub in some seasoning and olive oil. To add flavour to your gravy later, chop up some celery, leeks, carrots and onion and scatter around the turkey.

Next, cover with foil and place into the oven for the calculated time. To get a nice golden-brown colour, remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of the cooking time.

Check that the turkey is cooked properly by making sure that the juices run clear and you don’t see any pink, by piercing the thigh with a skewer.

Your turkey is now ready to be served with all the trimmings!

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