The highlight of Christmas dinner is arguably the magnificent turkey in all its golden glory. If you’re planning to roast a turkey this year, you might already be worried about how it’s going to turn out.
Fear not! Our quick and handy guide below should help you cook the turkey without burning it or drying it out (although we’ll leave you to decide on which stuffing, flavours and herbs to use).
1. If you’re using a frozen turkey, make sure it is completely thawed before cooking. There are two main methods of thawing a frozen turkey - putting it in the fridge or using a cold water bath. As a rule of thumb, allow at least 24 hours for every five pounds if you’re putting it in the fridge, and six to ten hours if you’re using a water bath. If you’re using the latter method, you’ll need to cook the turkey as soon as its thawed.
2. Truss (tie up) the turkey properly, ensuring the legs and wings are tucked toward the body of the bird. This makes sure the hot air in the oven circulates easily, allowing for even cooking.
3. Season the turkey to your desired preferences and tastes.
4. Keep the oven temperature at a steady, moderate temperature. This should result in perfectly cooked meat and crispy, golden skin.
5. Cover the turkey with bacon or foil during cooking, and cook uncovered for the last 30 minutes to brown the skin.
6. As a rule of thumb, you should allow 45 minutes per kg for unstuffed turkeys under 4.5kg, 40 minutes per kg for unstuffed turkeys between 4.5kg and 6.5kg, and 35 minutes per kg for unstuffed turkeys over 6.5kg.
7. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey is cooked properly. Insert it into the thickest part of the turkey, avoiding the bones, and it should read 74°C (or 165°F). If you’ve stuffed your turkey, make sure to also insert your thermometer into the stuffing - it should also register the same temperature.
8. Rest your turkey for between 15 and 20 minutes before carving.
9. Use the caramelised pan drippings left in the bottom of your roasting pan as the base for a delicious gravy, adding the turkey offal and some vegetables.
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