All About Turkey

All about Turkey

What size turkey do I need?

Allow 500g of meat on the bone for each person. This will give you enough for a meal with some leftover.

6-8 people: 4kg turkey

10 people: 5kg turkey

12 people: 6kg turkey

Make sure you have the right size roasting tray for your bird and that it will fit in your oven.

What turkey should I get:

The best turkey that I can recommend is a bronze turkey. It is a turkey with smaller legs, so the breast is not overcooked by the time the turkey legs are done. The Bronze turkey being an older breed, is naturally slower growing and the meat has an intense flavour. As the popularity of turkeys grew, white breeds were introduced to present as ‘oven ready’. They have a more subtle yet still delicious flavour.

Where possible, check your farmers market for organic or free-range turkey to bring better flavour of the meat. The drawback is the meat will be a little more though. An option if you want a softer meat is to place the turkey the night before in a liquid brine made of salt, water and spices to soften the meat. Keep the stuffing out until ready to place in the oven!

How long to defrost a frozen turkey?

Place in the fridge in a tray to catch any liquid. It will take about 24 hours for every 2.5 -3kg.

How do I calculate the cooking time?

 Small birds and crown roasts 4kg or less: 40 minutes per kilo, plus 20 minutes.

Birds over 4kg: 35 minutes per kilo, plus 20 minutes.

Always check the core temperature of your turkey to ensure it is cooked fully !

What’s the best way to stuff a turkey?

Don’t overfill the main body cavity of the turkey as this makes it harder for the heat to reach the very centre of the bird. This could result either in the turkey being slightly undercooked in the centre, or in the rest of the meat being overcooked as you try to cook the bird through.

Make sure the stuffing is completely cold before you use it.

Check that the main body cavity doesn’t contain the bag of giblets!

Should I tie the turkey?

Tying the turkey gives the bird a neat, compact shape prior to cooking, and stops it collapsing. It forces the legs close up against the body of the bird, which helps prevent them drying out.

Sit the bird on a board with its neck cavity and wings facing you. Take a long piece of string – about an arm’s length – and slide it under the turkey to lie between the wings and the legs, so you have an equal amount of string on each side.

Run both ends along the gap between the legs and the body and under the end of each drumstick. Now bring the ends of the string to the outside of the bird and over the top of the drumstick ends, and tie them together as closely as you can.

Pass each end of string under the knot, in opposite directions, and tie together once more over the top of the knot.

What if my turkey’s too big for the oven?

Cut off the legs, spread with butter, season, place them in the bottom of the roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes. Then remove the tin, put the buttered and seasoned ‘crown’ on top of the legs and continue to roast as before.

Six tips to help on roasting the perfect turkey

  • Bring the bird up to room temperature.
  • Smear softened butter under the turkey skin and over the legs. Season well.
  • Weigh the turkey, after it has been stuffed, and calculate the cooking time.
  • Put the turkey on a rack set inside a roasting tin.
  • Cover the turkey and tin loosely with foil, sealing it well under the rim of the tin.
  • Roast the last 20-30 minutes without the foil so that the skin can brown.

How can I check if the turkey is cooked right through?

Pierce the thickest part of the leg with a fine skewer. If the meat juices run clear, it means the turkey is cooked. If there are any traces of pink in the juices, return the bird to the oven for a further 15 minutes, then retest in the same way.

How can I guarantee a moist, juicy bird?

Once the turkey is cooked, remove from the oven and lift onto a carving board. Cover it tightly with foil and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. This will allow the meat fibres to relax so that the juices, which will have risen to the surface of the meat while it was in the hot oven, are able to soak back down into the meat, making it moist and juicy. It also gives you time to turn up the oven temperature to crisp up the parsnips and roast potatoes.

How do I bone out turkey legs?

Pull the legs away from the body and cut along the natural line between the thigh and body to remove the leg joints in one piece. Repeat with the other leg.

Use a sharp knife to cut along the thigh and drumstick to expose the bone. Slide the knife underneath the bone and cut to remove the entire bone. Cut away any sinew. Repeat with the other leg.