There can be all sorts of pressures when it comes to the big day, but at least the turkey is one you can get a grip on – wayward family members, sadly, not so much. To help you avoid a mini-breakdown mid-morning on Christmas Day, here’s a few foolproof tips you can arm yourself with to make your turkey effortlessly delicious.
1. Let your bird breathe
Before you’ve even switched the oven on, think about how you store your turkey. Remove all packing upon delivery, store on the bottom shelf of your fridge and pat the skin dry. Remove all giblets too and keep separately in the fridge (you can use them to make a cracking gravy). By removing packaging and patting it dry, you’re letting the air get to it, drying the skin out a little and laying the foundations for a deliciously crispy skin. Remove any string and take your bird out of the fridge 1 hour before roasting too, so it comes up to room temperature and makes for more accurate cooking times (see our guide below).
2. Don’t stuff the cavity
To really keep things simple, pop your stuffing in a separate dish. The amount of stuffing used will impact how long your turkey takes to cook. If the thought of working out minutes per kilo has got your feathers ruffled before you’ve even wrapped your first gift then this is the method for you. Alternatively, just weigh your turkey after you’ve stuffed the neck cavity to calculate how long it needs.
3. Embrace butter, beautiful butter
Make your own herby butter to spread in a gorgeous, baste-enriching layer between the turkey’s skin and the breast meat. Mix together 100g of unsalted butter at room temperature with the roughly chopped leaves of a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper. If you fancy a little more flavour, throw in some crushed garlic and shavings of lemon zest. Make a space under the skin all over the breast with the back of the spoon, and slide in the butter with a spatula. Pat the skin down to spread the butter as evenly as you can, drizzle with a little oil and add more seasoning on top.
4. Use fruits for flavour
Stuffing a lemon in half into a bird’s cavity for roasting is a classic way of introducing some fresh, zesty flavour. Take it up a festive notch by popping in a couple of clementines sliced widthways with the stalks of your herbs and a few bay leaves in the cavity. Or you could used a large apple too. This will impart a fragrant fruity flavour in joyfully festive way.
5. Leave to rest after cooking
If you had been roasting in the oven for a few hours, you’d be a little tense, right? Once the cooking time is up take your bird out of the oven, place onto a serving platter and cover in lots of foil to keep it warm and leave to rest for 30 – 45mins. Don’t worry, it won’t go cold. A great tip that works superbly with chicken too, this resting period helps the meat to relax and take on more of its juices. A dry bird can be due to a combination of overcooking and not enough rest time. So take a deep breath, relax, have faith in your timings and your tastebuds will thank you for it!
Timings for cooking your turkey
Our free-range slow-grown bronze Turkeys from Fosse Meadows farm come with handy cooking instructions. High-welfare ‘farm fresh’ turkeys have a superior flavour and slightly denser texture in the fibres of the meat and require cooking to an internal temperature of 72ºC or above (lower than cheaper birds which need their internal temperature to reach 82ºC). Test with a temperature probe in the thickest part of the breast.
To put your mind at ease before it arrives at your doorstep, here’s our quick guide on cooking and timings.
How to cook:
1. Place the prepared bird breast side down in a roasting tin.
2. Cover the whole bird in foil, cook at 230ºC for the first 30 minutes, and then reduce to 190ºC for the remaining time.
3. About 30 minutes before the end of its cooking time, remove the foil and carefully turn the bird on its back to brown the breast.
The British Turkey Information Service advise that if a turkey is over 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 90 mins. Take a look at their suggested timings (when using foil) below:
4kg = 2 hrs 50 minutes
5 kg = 3 hrs 10 minutes
6 kg = 3 hrs 30 minutes
7 kg = 3 hrs 50 minutes
8 kg = 4hrs 10 minutes
9 kg = 4hrs 20 minutes
If in doubt, use their trusty cooking calculator! Happy festive feastings everyone.