Christmas Fare Food & Drinks

The Christmas Turkey

 

Ingredients – Main

  • 20ml/¾fl oz Vegetable oil
  • 1 x 5kg/11lb good-quality free-range turkey, preferably organically reared, wishbone removed (ask your butcher to remove the wings and neck and chop them into 2.5cm/1in pieces to use in the dish)
  • 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 pinches white pepper
  • 200ml/7fl oz water
  • Additional salt and black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp ground cornflour (depending on how thick you like your gravy), dissolved in 1 tbsp cold water
  • Roast potatoes, pumpkin, onion, sweet potato and/or steamed seasonal vegetables, to serve

Simple Turkey Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 5 slices of bread
  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs
  • 2 to 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sultanas
  • 250 grams of bacon diced
  • 1 pinch of salt and black or white pepper

Method

  1. Toast 4 slices of bread either in the toaster or in the oven until it is hard and easy to break and crumble
  2. Crumble the toast into small bits
  3. Add the crumbled toasted bread into a bowl
  4. Add the finely diced onion
  5. Add the diced bacon
  6. Add the teaspoon of mixed herbs
  7. Add the cup of sultanas
  8. Add a pinch of salt and black or white pepper
  9. Mix the ingredients together using your hands
  10. Mix the eggs together in a separate bowl
  11. Add the egg mixture to the bowl of ingredients
  12. Mix the entire contents of the bowl with your hands. Make sure the bread and the mixture is firm but not runny
  13. If the ingredients feel a little dry, just add additional eggs until it feels right
  14. Ensure that there are no bags of giblets or turkey within the turkey cavity
  15. Add the stuffing by holding the turkey in a vertical position with the cavity facing upwards

TIP: Use a normal piece of bread to close off the cavity, then use bamboo or wooden skewers to hold the cavity closed for cooking. It’s tricky, but be patient and you will do it ok.

Method – Cooking the Turkey

  1. Remove the turkey from the fridge and bring to room temperature – this will take at least an hour, if frozen the thaw time might be 2 to 4 hours

  2. When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 230C/220C Fan/Gas 8.

  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based roasting tray on the stove top. Add the chopped turkey wings and neck and fry for 8-10 minutes, turning the pieces over every 2-3 minutes, or until evenly browned all over.

  4. Add the stuffing and seal the cavity of the turkey before the next step.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, soften the butter with the back of a dessert spoon, then season with the salt and white pepper. Using a pastry brush or your hands, smear the seasoned butter all over the turkey. Add any remaining butter to the roasting tray once the chopped wings and neck have browned.

  6. Place the turkey on top of the wing and neck pieces, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

  7. Remove the turkey from the oven and baste all over with the cooking juices.

  8. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C/150C Fan/Gas 3.

  9. Pour the water into the roasting tray, then return the turkey to the oven and continue to cook for a further 1 hour, basting the bird with the cooking juices every 20 minutes (do this quickly to prevent the heat escaping from the oven).

  10. At the end of the cooking time, test that the turkey is cooked through by inserting a skewer or roasting fork into the thickest part of its thigh; if the juices run clear, the meat is cooked. Alternatively, use a meat thermometer; if cooked, the temperature should be 74°C or above. If the turkey is not fully cooked, return it to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the juices run clear.

  11. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer the bird to a large, deep-sided tray, reserving the roasting tray the turkey was cooked in along with the cooking juices. Set the turkey aside to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 1½ hours.

  12. While the turkey is resting, cook your roast potatoes and other roasted or steamed vegetable dishes.

  13. When you’re almost ready to serve the meal, return the roasting tray used to cook the turkey to the stove top. Bring the cooking juices to the boil over a medium heat, scraping up any burned bits from the bottom of the tray using a wooden spoon.

  14. Collect the juices released by the turkey as it was resting and add them to the gravy. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper, if needed.

  15. Reduce the heat until the gravy is simmering, then stir in the dissolved cornflour and cook until the gravy has thickened.

  16. Strain the gravy through a fine sieve into a warmed jug. Keep warm.

  17. To serve, bring the turkey to the table and carve into slices. Serve with the roast potatoes and vegetables. Pour over the gravy.

Recipe Tips

Tip 1: As is so often the way when it comes to cooking, buying the best quality ingredients that you can afford is key to making this dish taste spectacular. If you are unable to use a fresh turkey, ensure that your frozen turkey is thoroughly defrosted before you start. Whether you’re using a fresh or frozen bird, allow it to return to room temperature for before cooking.

Tip 2: Resting the turkey is an important process which allows the meat to become tender and succulent as the juices inside the meat become more evenly distributed throughout the bird – so don’t skip this stage!

Tip 3: You may be a little concerned about the cooking time (or lack of it). Believe me, it has been tried, tested and tried again. During the cooking process the Turkey will absorb the heat from the oven and this absorbed heat will continue to cook the bird as it rests which can increase the internal temperature by up to 10C, depending on the size of the Turkey.

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