While there’s a lot to be said for what pigs in blankets and homemade roasties bring to a Christmas dinner plate, it’s the turkey that’s the real star of the show. Given that the big bird is the centrepiece of the dinner table you’re going to want to get it just right. We’ve put together a few tips to help…
1. Before cooking, a turkey needs to be at room temperature so that it cooks evenly. This will mean leaving it out of the fridge for 3-4 hours. If you’ve bought a frozen one, you’ll need to fully defrost first. Here’s how long to defrost depending on the size of your bird:
Size Defrost time
3.5kg (8lb) 16 hours
5kg (11lb) 21 hours
6.4kg (14lb) 28 hours
9kg (20lb) 28 hours
2. Take out the giblets and clean out the cavity.
3. Starting at the cavity end, baste under the skin of the turkey in soft butter. Be gentle, though, you don’t want to tear the skin! Rub the outside of the bird with butter and season with salt and pepper. You don’t need to get too fancy with the seasoning; salt, pepper and maybe half a squeezed lemon will suffice.
4. Push the stuffing into the neck cavity and place some herbs and chopped onion in the main cavity for added extra flavour.
5. Pull the legs together and tie with string (known as ‘trussing’) to help stop the meat from drying out (here’s a video on how to do this).
6. Preheat your oven to 140°C / 275°F / Gas 1 and cook the turkey for 23 minutes per kilogram, plus 2 hours and 45 minutes.
So, for example, a 5kg at 23 minutes per kg bird needs to be cooked for 1hr 55m + 2hrs 45m = 3hrs 40m.
Insert a skewer into the centre of the bird. If the juices run clear (with no sign of pink), the turkey is cooked.
7. Once cooked, cover the turkey loosely with foil and leave it to rest for about 30 minutes so that the juices soak back into the flesh. The foil will keep the heat in so that the bird is still warm enough to serve.8. Tuck in!
Given that the big bird is the centrepiece of the dinner table you’re going to want to get it just right. We’ve put together a few tips to help.