Guidelines for cooking a Christmas Turkey
As soon as possible, after you’ve collected your turkey or it has been delivered, remove all packaging and store in a refrigerator. The giblets will come to you vacuumed packed and they should also be stored in the refrigerator. The bird is best cooked within 3 days of purchase.
Remove the turkey from the fridge, leave it to stand for 2 hours before cooking.
The turkeys are trussed with a simple trussing band, which is best removed before cooking. We advise not to stuff the cavity as this will hinder the proper cooking of the turkey but you may choose to put an apple or peeled onion inside.
Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper, and place breast side down (covered in foil if you prefer) in a roasting tin. The white meat of the turkey cooks faster than the dark (leg and wing) meat. This is why it is better to cook turkey breast side down for the first half to three quarters of the cooking time.
This will allow the fat deposits in the back to percolate the breast meat, which rests in the juices.
Gravy always tastes better if the turkey giblets are used to make it. However it is recommended that the liver is not used as it may give the gravy a slightly bitter flavour. Instead, lightly sauté the liver in butter, chop and add to stuffing.
Cook the turkey at 190ºC/375ºF, Fan oven 160ºC/320ºF, Gas Mark 5, Aga hot oven. (See table below for suggested total times).
Suggested cooking times (remember ovens vary greatly)
1 hr 50 mins
2 hrs 35 mins
2 hrs 10 mins
2 hrs 55 mins
2 hrs 30 mins
3 hrs 15 mins
2 hrs 50 mins
3 hrs 40 mins
3 hrs 10 mins
3 hrs 30 mins
4 hrs 25 mins
3 hrs 50 mins
4 hrs 45 mins
About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, open the foil if used and turn the bird carefully on to its back to brown the breast.
It is very important not to overcook a turkey – people may do and are then disappointed when it is dry.
This can be avoided by either using a “pop up” timer that detects when the turkey is cooked or testing with a fork on the inside of the thigh – when the juices run clear the turkey is ready.
After removing the turkey from the oven and before carving, allow it to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes prior to carving.
Carving made easy:
Hold the leg by the end knuckle, cut close to the body and twist off.
Carve this dark leg meat.
Similarly remove the wing and cut in half.
Repeat for the other side.
To carve the breast meat start from the outside working to the breast bone in the middle.