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Here are my tips to take a little stress out of preparing Christmas dinner, as following these tips will make for a much more relaxed day and one perfectly cooked Christmas turkey.
Choosing the turkey can be quite a daunting task itself. We offer a wide range of fresh free-range turkey products perfect for everyone, whether it's an individual turkey parcel from our Chef-Prepared collection or an eight-kilo whole Bourbon Red bird, we think we have covered bases for any all Christmas dinners.
For a traditional whole roast Christmas turkey, size does matter. For selecting the right turkey for your festive table, our serving guides are for a minimum servings, whilst you may have a little leftover for traditional Boxing Day sandwiches, buffets or to make dishes such as pies, curry or tray bakes.
Typical weights per servings and roasting tray dimensions:
Make sure you have a roasting tray large enough to hold the bird and one that fits into your oven.
Our collection of easy carve and chef prepared products are for those who have no desire to navigate their way around carving a whole bird, whilst simple to cook and great value for money. Opting for the smaller perfectly sized individual portions is ideal, especially as there's no waste or leftovers if turkey once a year is enough for you.
If your looking for something a little different we have produced a perfectly balanced brined turkey breast, great for a winter BBQ, or traditional roast which will be more succulent than a traditional turkey breast.
If you're ordering your turkey in advance for freezing this Christmas, we strongly recommend following our guidelines on freezing. Note the weight of the turkey pre freezing; ensure the product is fully wrapped and sealed.
When defrosting this can take up to 4 days for a large 8kg bird so remove in plenty of time and defrost in the fridge, never near a radiator or submerged in water.
For fresh Christmas turkey's we recommend unwrapping up to 48 hours in advance and storing in the bottom of your fridge uncovered - this will help dry the skin out for a better roast.
Remember to remove giblets from inside the cavity and reserve them for the gravy to serve alongside your Christmas feast.
If stuffing the bird, we recommend doing this on the day of the roast. Don't pack the stuffing into the neck cavity too tight as it will not cook evenly. Add the weight of the stuffing to the weight of the bird to calculate cooking times.
Remember to calculate the time for roasting, which includes the time to bring the bird to room temperature, and allow up to half the cooking time for resting! For example, a 6kg bird would need 1 hour to bring to room temperature, 4 hours roasting and a minimum of 1 hour resting - equalling minimum 6 hours in total.
On the day of roasting, remove the turkey from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. When uncovered, this can take a couple of hours for the larger birds.
A great way to keep the turkey moist for Christmas dinner is to gently push a generous amount of softened butter under the skin, so as the bird roasts the butter will add flavour and baste the meat. Sitting the bird on a trivet of chopped onions, carrots and celery both helps the bird roast evenly, whilst producing a great base for homemade gravy.
Remember to baste the turkey regularly. This is simply spooning the juices released when cooking back over the bird and cover with foil both when roasting and resting.
A great tip is to use a meat thermometer when roasting. Always pierce the thickest part of the turkey and hold the thermometer for 10 seconds to get a true temperature reading. We recommend reaching a core temperature of 68°C for turkey, before resting to ensure the meat is fully cooked.
It's imperative to rest your turkey to lock in moisture and retain those juices, which add all the flavour to the Christmas roast. This should be up to half the cooking time before carving.
When carving, set a large chopping board in place with a food safe damp cloth underneath so the board is stable, use a sharp carving knife and meat fork to hold the turkey in place. For easy carving remove legs and wings on whole birds before slicing the breast meat.
Once the turkey has been removed from the roasting tray, pop the roast vegetables to one side then add the giblets and cook over a medium high heat. Once nicely browned, dust with a tablespoon of flour, continue to cook then add the vegetables back to the tray with a litre of poultry stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce to a desired consistency before adding a few sprigs of fresh sage to the gravy. Pass through a fine sieve and keep hot ready to serve.