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Have I just made a big mistake buying a frozen Bernard Matthews turkey?

(39 Posts)
littleredsquirrel Wed 15-Dec-10 10:28:03

Nigella is going on about avoiding "turkeys of unknown provenance". I've never cooked a turkey in my life and my plan had been an M&S turkey crown but the combination of having to travel 18 miles to get to an M&S to place my order and then the danger of getting snowed in and not being able to collect same expensive turkey, combined with the half price frozen turkeys in tesco has resulted in an impulse purchase which I'm now worrying about!

Today is the last day for placing the M&S order if I'm going to chicken (or turkey grin) out and go down the M&S route after all!

Is there really a big difference in quality and taste?

shinybaubles Wed 15-Dec-10 10:57:44

Um yes I found there was we had a BM frozen turkey one year, and I am a pretty good cook, and it was despite my best efforts tasteless and dry.
That said you may have better luck.
If the one from M&S is too costly what about getting a fresh one from Tesco, they do lots of variations on the free range, finest etc - lots of choice if I remember correctly - and if there are not that many of you I would go for a crown.

craftynclothy Wed 15-Dec-10 11:01:52

We had a BM turkey last year (we always get a frozen turkey cos my parents always buy it for us). One of the self basting ones and it was lovely. Got one again for this year but in a more appropriate size. I misheard my mum last year and ended up with an Extra Large one for 16-18 people to serve four adults blush

littleredsquirrel Wed 15-Dec-10 11:05:20

Its not so much the cost shiney as the hassle factor. M&S is a good hour and a half round trip in the car and we get snowed in very easily. Cooking for 14 and so really don't want to be left turkeyless.
Tesco last date for fresh turkey orders was yesterday so too late for that option and M&S is today. Aaagh I needed lots of people to come on and say "don't be silly a turkey is a turkey!"

shinybaubles Wed 15-Dec-10 11:09:20

littleredsquirrell you may well have better luck than me, you can also get turkey in Tescos without preordering, just from the meat section.
I hope it goes really well whatever you cook, we will also be cooking for 14.

sethstarofbethlehemsmum Wed 15-Dec-10 11:12:22

there is a difference, and I would try to avoid the Bernard Matthews, BUT you made a pragmatic decision for very sensible reasons: even a Bernard Matthews turkey will still taste way better than no turkey, if that was a real risk.

there is plenty of stuff you can do to add flavour, at least to the outside, (and even if the turkey itself is dry you can serve it with plenty of stuff on the plate that isn't; I would concentrate now on how you can make it as yummy as possible and plan the cooking so it will all go smoothly. and not worry.

contrary to the tv chef worldview, having impeccably sourced produce on the table is not the be all and end all when it comes to having a good Christmas.

SantasKnickersOnMyHead Wed 15-Dec-10 11:13:03

Don't be silly, a turkey is a turkey.

grin

littleredsquirrel Wed 15-Dec-10 11:15:26

Doubt it shiney I'm not exactly the world's best cook. But I am encouraged by your experience crafty!

Only ones I found in our very large tescos were the frozen ones. They did do a tescos finest frozen one but it only served six.

Oh well, bought it now (although will donate and replace if I get a sudden flurry of "you can't possibly use that turkey" responses!)

Any thoughts on cooking (just under 7kg). Nigella is saying 3 hours to keep moist which nearly made MIL pass out with shock!

nocake Wed 15-Dec-10 11:20:11

Not true.... a good quality turkey is completely different to a bad one. A free range bronze turkey will require less cooking and will taste really good. A BM turkey will need some effort to keep it moist and even then it will only ever be average.

Keep it covered to avoid losing moisture. Pour some liquid into the cavity before you start cooking. Water will be fine but a glass of white wine would be better. Don't put anything else in the cavity as that will slow the cooking which will dry it out even more. Baste it frequently and don't overcook it. Use a meat thermometer to check when it is cooked properly.

Make some fabulous gravy to add flavour. Prepare some chicken stock in advance and add it to the turkey juices. Put in some red wine for a bit of a kick.

TheSleepFairy Wed 15-Dec-10 11:22:14

little I have a BM frozen crown & like you I'm also not the worlds best cook so I am going to lurk on your thread for a nigella type lovely to come along & save us grin

nocake Wed 15-Dec-10 11:23:40

I'd say closer to 4 hours. Start the oven really high (220 degrees) for 30 minutes then turn down to 170-180 for 3 1/2 hours... or until it's cooked.

sethstarofbethlehemsmum Wed 15-Dec-10 11:24:20

yes, definitely use a meat thermometer. It makes the whole thing much less stressful and removes risk of overcooking.

hobbgoblin Wed 15-Dec-10 11:26:24

I think if you brine it then you could save it! Though not sure if you could defrost and then brine as brining takes longer than 24 hrs...

frenchfancy Wed 15-Dec-10 11:27:29

A turkey is a turkey. There are better turkeys to be had, but I thinkyou should make the most of the one you've got.

7kg is about 15lb, which at 15-20 mins per lb makes more like 4 hours than 3. And don't forget if you add sausagemeat stuffing (which I suggest you do to help with the flavour and moistness) then you need to add the weight of the sausagemeat to your calculations.

Just Checked Delia

"for 15-20lb turkey (6.75 - 9kg) 45 minutes at high temperature (220C) then 4-5 hours at lower temp (170C) then a final 30 minutes uncovered at 200C"

nocake Wed 15-Dec-10 11:39:24

Good advice Hobgoblin. That will definately help it stay moist.

littleredsquirrel Wed 15-Dec-10 11:52:01

Jamie says to stuff between the skin and the meat. Presumably that will help?

Right Ocado will still deliver me a large fresh turkey crown from waitrose. Cost being less of an issue than stress can I have a vote please on whether I switch (I'd keep the BM one just in case snow prevents delivery!)

bumpybecky Wed 15-Dec-10 11:53:41

crashing thread to ask about meat thermometers...

is it just a question of sticking them into the meat and reading the temp dial?

or does it need to be hot enough in the middle for a period of time?

sethstarofbethlehemsmum Wed 15-Dec-10 11:57:28

Becky - yes, just stick in and read dial (or digital display).
mine was from IKEA and has a handy timer function so you leave the probe in the meat with the rest of the thermometer outside, and it beeps when it's got to the temp you set it to. But the simple ones work fine too; the main thing is to make sure the end of the probe is in the thickest part of the meat and not touching the bone.

wfrances Wed 15-Dec-10 12:53:12

sorry ,i dont like bm,
i buy a fresh turkey crown from asda then freeze it.

sethstarofbethlehemsmum Wed 15-Dec-10 12:55:44

my meat thermometer is like this. well worth the money IMO.

CherryTheRedNosedMonster Wed 15-Dec-10 13:04:48

do you have sainsburys? i think their last day is today, and their meat is usually lovely.

Niecie Wed 15-Dec-10 13:09:09

We always buy a frozen Emergency Back-up Christmas Turkey just in case we don't get a fresh one - not been able to order from our local Sainsburys until this year so always a risk we can't get the right size.

We then eat the frozen one at Easter if it doesn't get used which is never has.

I might be completely wrong but I thought I read somewhere that to preserve moisture you can cook the turkey upside down, only turning it over to brown it off for the last half hour. Not tried it myself so I can't vouch for the effectiveness.

However, I am not sure you do always get what you pay for - I bought an extremely expensive fresh bronze turkey from the local farm shop and there wasn't any discernable difference from a supermarket fresh one. Other people thought there was but I wonder if that was because they knew it was supposed to be better and therefore believed that to be true. Anyway, don't tell people whichever turkey you end up using and doubt most will be able to tell.

joker4 Wed 15-Dec-10 13:13:31

its good for a tribute to bernard matthews n the year of his death.

littleredsquirrel Wed 15-Dec-10 13:19:16

Right, sod it - plan is tell everyone its a posh one. Save the £48 it will cost me to buy another and use the brine method (although further opinions welcome on whether that's a good idea given the defrosting time!), cook upside down, stuff between the meat and the skin and slosh white wine in the cavity.

Use £48 saved to buy extra alcohol and ensure everyone has had a fair bit to drink before we eat so that they don't notice dodgy BM turkey!

annoyingdevil Wed 15-Dec-10 13:35:26

Yes, fresh, free-range nicer. But for Christmas dinner with all the yummy trimmings, I doubt anyone will notice. You could always impress them all with some delicious home made stuffing

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