Have a read of these tips from some turkey roasting veterans.
Easiest Roast Turkey
We get our turkeys from Nick & Jacob at Fosse Meadows. As well as raising the best poultry in the land, they are dab hands in the kitchen and have a range of recipes on their site for making the most of their tasty birds.
To roast a turkey, they recommend the following method:
Preheat oven to 230C/Gas Mark 8. Remove turkey giblets and reserve. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan, brush the turkey generously with rapeseed oil and season with sea salt and black pepper and cover with foil. Place the turkey in the pre-heated oven and cook at this temperature for the first 30 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and cook for approximately 30 minutes per kilo, basting every hour. Remove the foil for the last half hour, then rest for half an hour after cooking.
See the full method on their site, here
We asked our favourite local Instagrammer, Mike Heywood, to give us his best turkey tips. We ate his Thanksgiving turkey, so can testify to the deliciousness of the method!
3 easy steps for a perfect Christmas bird
1. Dry brine. Brining in its traditional sense (submerging the whole bird in a solution of salt, sugar, water & spices) is a proven method for locking in moisture, tenderising and seasoning the bird from outside-in and inside-out. Dry brining has the same effect, minus the water. The key ingredient is the salt, which once rubbed all over the bird initially draws surface moisture from the meat, then dissolves into this moisture before getting reabsorbed back into the bird taking along with it any flavourings and seasonings of your choice. (We used about 1.5 cups of sea salt mixed well with 2 tbsp each of ground coriander seed, fennel seed, black pepper & Sichuan peppercorns). It's important to also season the cavity of the bird well to enable the 'inside out' bit of the process to work. The bird can then be left on a tray, uncovered on the lowest shelf of your fridge, happily for 2-3 days. Dry brining also means you can do away with trying to find a vessel large enough to contain the bird plus a huge amount of water sitting precariously in the fridge! When ready to cook, just remember to brush off any excess salt from the surface, and wipe out the cavity with some kitchen paper as the bird will have taken all it needs by this point.
This video shows a really great technique (on a chicken but works just as well for other birds) and explains why it's important to truss the bird well (protect the breast meat from drying out, encourages better air circulation and maximises crispy skin). Just ask your butcher for a bit of extra string when picking up your bird, and follow the easy steps in the video.
Cooking the bird first gently in a low oven for a long time enables even cooking, and helps to retain moisture. Holding the bird at its target internal temperature of 72-75C for as long as possible will also maximise tenderness as the natural enzymes in the meat get to work breaking down the fibres. A digital meat thermometer is the safest and most accurate way of achieving this. These are generally inexpensive and easy to find in most kitchen shops or online. Just insert the probe into the thickest part of the thigh, as close to the bone as you can get without touching it. Place the bird initially into a 100C oven, then once it gets to around 65C internal temp, turn the oven to 75C. In terms of timings if you can set aside a minimum of 5-6 hours, or even better up to 9 the effect only gets better. Finally, the high and fast stage. About 1.5 hours before you plan to eat, take the bird out of the oven. Turn the oven up to its highest setting and once super hot, return the bird to the oven and blast it for about 20 mins or until the skin is perfectly golden all over. Remove the bird from the oven and allow to rest uncovered for an hour, in which time your oven is free to finish off the other trimmings as required.
Food safety guidelines recommend that stuffing is cooked separately to the bird – no, in fact, stuffed! We roll ours into a log, or cook in a baking dish like a meatloaf; or sometimes, we roll it into balls and cook it around the bird or vegetables for the last 30 minutes of roasting.
In the cavity of the bird, we place a couple of sliced lemons or oranges and a good handgul of bay and thyme or sage.