CHRISTMAS is just around the corner and nothing beats having a roast turkey in the oven to feed the orphaned, homesick housemates. A traditional English Christmas dinner should include the roast turkey or goose, Brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce and a lashing of gravy made from the roasting juices. And pudding of course!
This festive feast is always a tricky one as we are all scared of the meat drying out, but a few of my kitchen tips might just help put some confidence back into this special day of having good friends around to celebrate.
One secret is to always look for the best quality bird you can find. Your best bet is to have a chat to your local butcher and ask where the turkey is coming from, ask to have a look at a few samples. Bronze turkeys and Norfolk Black are my favourite breeds. Look for the free-range label when selecting your bird. If you are going to buy from your local butcher, be sure to get your order in this week so you wont be left disappointed. Major supermarkets have a great selection also.
A 6kg turkey will comfortably feed seven hungry housemates. As today’s recipe is a lot to take in I am going to split up the roasting of the turkey and the vegetables and compliments in two separate features. So stay tuned for next week’s tasty edition too and the recipes to finish off this great meal. Merry cooking!
Chris’s Christmas recipe for the perfect turkey
What you need:
1 x 6.5kg turkey
180g of soften salted butter
250g of smoked streaky bacon rashes
Good quality sea salt and peppermill
For the stuffing:
1 kg of good quality pork mince
½ bunch of fresh sage leaves finely chopped
1 large white onion finely diced
½ cup of whole meal bread crumbs
Cracked black pepper
Pinch of mace if you have it!
For the gravy:
4 tbsp of plain flour or 2 tbsp of corn flour
1 ltr of good quality brown chicken stock, easily found in all supermarkets
Splash of red wine
What to do:
Remove the bird and the butter from the fridge first thing in the morning to allow the flesh to come to room temp. Turn on the oven to 200 degrees.
Next we need to make the stuffing. Take a large bowl and throw in the sausage meat, sage, onion breadcrumbs, egg, spices and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Mix the ingredients well to combine all the spices. Leave it to rest in a cool place but not in the fridge!
Rub the butter over the bird and under the flesh, which will help keep the flesh moist. Layer the bacon over the breast and press firmly. Season under the skin and inside the bird with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Take the stuffing and fill the cavity of the bird without packing it too tightly as the stuffing will rise when cooked. Take a large skewer and fold the excess skin over each other and secure with the skewer. Lie out two large sheets of foil and wrap the bird making sure the fold is at the top so we can inspect the bird during the cooking process.
Place the turkey in the oven on the lower shelf and bake at 220 degrees for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes turn the oven down to 170 degrees and cook for 3.5 hours for a 6kg bird. After 3 hours tear away the foil, being careful of any steam that is released from the foil. Remove the bacon and place it on an oven tray to be cooked for 15 minutes or until it becomes crisp. Close the door and allow the turkey to cook and the skin to become golden brown. Every 15 minutes take a large spoon and spoon some roasting juices over the bird to keep the flesh moist and avoid it drying out. This will take about 45 minutes to get the skin crisp but well worth the effort.
Remove the turkey from the oven, take a skewer and insert into the largest part of the leg and allow the juices to run out, they must be clear without any pinkness. The legs should also feel as though they can be removed easily.
Remove the turkey from the oven and place it in a warm area of the stove and cover with foil. It will stay warm and more importantly, this gives it time to relax, ready for carving.