Hosting Christmas can be nerve-wracking. Whether it is your first year confronted with a giant chicken and a group of hopeful hungry mouths, or you just need some reminders, here are 5 top tips to get it right:
You are unlikely to find a whole turkey below 4kg, which will feed about six people. The available weights go up to about 10kg which will feed nearly 20 people.
If your gathering (or your oven!) isn’t that big, consider a turkey crown instead. This means you don’t get the legs and wings, only the white breast meat. This makes cooking quicker and there is less risk of a week of turkey sandwiches.
If frozen, the turkey must be thoroughly thawed before cooking - make sure you allow enough time for all the ice crystals to vanish. This can take a couple of days!
Keep defrosted or fresh turkey cool and cook as soon as possible. Like all poultry, don’t wash it before cooking. Cook stuffing separately, as otherwise there is a risk that the stuffed part of the bird will not cook properly.
The secret to a delicious turkey is to keep it moist. The right method is hotly debated, but one way is to cook it breast side down. Turn it over 30 minutes before the end of cooking. Smearing the breast with oil or butter before cooking also adds moisture, as does cooking it breast up with strips of bacon laid across it.
Use an online turkey cooking calculator to get your timings and temperatures right. At the end of cooking time, test with a skewer into the thickest part. Clear juices mean ‘go’, pink juices mean ‘keep cooking’.
When the turkey is cooked, take it out of the oven, keep it covered and wait 30 minutes. That keeps it juicy and makes it easier to carve.
Christmas dinner need not be as calorific as you think, so enjoy that perfect turkey!
all I need now is the companion article : 'best ways to use leftover turkey' Froze some of it but the rest has been curried, sandwiches, salads, stir fry....there's no end to this giant bird!
makes sense that if you are cooking, do it on a large scale! I don't see why turkey can't be substituted for chicken in all those high protein recipes, and it will make a nice change for some rather jaded tastebuds. There's never enough turkey curry as far as I'm concerned.
Definitely leave it for half an hour for the juices to settle. This makes it more juicy because turkey can be quite dry.
My tip is to get the largest turkey you can afford. You will then have loads of leftovers (even better than Christmas dinner imo) and can also freeze some for pies/curries etc in the new year.
I did my first turkey lunch last year and you are absolutely right - scary! There's lots of conflicting advice out there, but I saw a council reminder this morning about not washing poultry, it scatters bacteria around. Just cook it properly is all that matters.