Cooking the perfect Christmas Turkey
It’s the centrepiece of the whole Christmas meal, but even for experienced cooks, getting the turkey just right can be quite a challenge!
Achieving the right combination of juicy meat and crisp savoury skin can be tricky but here are a few handy hints to help you prepare the perfect turkey for your guests.
before you start
Allow 350g-450g per person if it weighs less than 4.5kg. If you're buying a bigger bird, allow 200g-350g per person – but make sure it will fit in your oven!
To cook, allow 20 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 20 minutes for good measure. If the turkey weighs more than 6.75kg, allow 15 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 15 minutes.
If you're buying a frozen turkey, make sure you allow plenty of time for your bird to defrost…check the packaging for any guidance on defrosting first.
If there are no instructions, you can work to approximately these guidelines: in a fridge allow 10-12 hours per kg, in a cool room allow 3-4 hours per kg, and at room temperature allow 2 hours per kg.
preparing your turkey
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Fan ovens should be turned to 160C/320F/Gas Mark 2.
Always remove the giblets before seasoning and roasting your turkey.
Stuff the cavity at the leg end with a few crushed cloves of garlic, a lemon cut in half and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage wrapped in a bundle.
For a sage-and-onion stuffing, get some good quality sausages and remove the skins, fry a couple of onions with some chopped apple, add a handful of breadcrumbs and some chopped sage. For great results you can use our range of 100% British sausages.
Place your turkey in a large roasting tin or on a roasting tray, cover with foil and place in your preheated oven.
Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes or so to get a nice golden-brown colour.
You can also rub the turkey with herb butter to help keep it moist whilst cooking.
To check your turkey is properly cooked, pierce the thigh with a skewer and make sure the juices run clear. If you see any pink, it isn’t properly cooked.
Allow the turkey to sit for 15 minutes after removing it from the oven.
Always use a really sharp knife to carve it, and use a fork to help you keep it in place.
To carve your turkey start with the leg, followed by the crown. Carve across the grain of the meat and not parallel to its fibers.
Serve with all the trimmings and enjoy!
What to do with your turkey leftovers
Everyone has leftovers, so why not prepare in advance for what you are going to do with them? Here are some recipe ideas for getting the most out of your Christmas leftovers...
Try with our soft flour tortillas, a red pepper, and lemon juice for a quick and simple change after Christmas dinner.
Pick up some of our Fairtrade oranges, ginger, onions and carrots to create another easy alternative to a week of turkey sandwiches.
Got more than just the scraps left over?
If you've got some of the bigger bits left, why not try our chargrilled turkey breast with a lime and coriander marinade or BBQ steaks with lemon, garlic and mint marinade recipes.
Healthy handling of your Christmas turkey
- Keep raw poultry in its packaging and well away from ready-to-eat foods
in the fridge.
- Ensure the turkey is fully defrosted, inside and out, before cooking.
- Don’t wash the bird before cooking – it may spread germs.
- Use separate utensils for raw poultry, then clean them and your worktops – preferably with an antibacterial spray.
- After handling raw poultry, wash and dry your hands thoroughly, with hot,
- Your poultry is cooked when the juices run clear – none of the meat should
- Cook your stuffing separately in a roasting tin – as it can cause the turkey to cook more slowly.