A guide to cooking your turkey at Christmas

Preparing a turkey feast this Christmas? Find out whether to brine, how long to cook and the best way to carve it

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Stuffing | Brining | Cooking time | Carving

 



Should I stuff the turkey?

According to James Martin the answer is a categoric no. But if you must, stuff the neck cavity only, leaving the main cavity free for heat to circulate, making sure the turkey is throughly cooked through.


What is brining and is it important?

Brining is when you steep the turkey overnight, usually in a salty mixture to which you can add other festive flavours. As Nigella vouches: "For me the only turkey is a brined one. Not only does it tenderise and add subtle spiciness, but it makes carving the turkey incredibly much easier."

You can brine a turkey for up to two days, but you'll need a container big enough to submerge it completely and somewhere cold enough to keep it during that time.


I'm using a crown - can I brine that?

Yes, but you only need to brine it for around five to six hours.

After brining, wash the bird throughly inside and out and pat dry before cooking it. Do this 1-2 hours before you're thinking of putting it in the oven.


How long do I need to cook a turkey for?

  • Aim for 20 mins for every kilogram plus a further 70 minutes if the joint is under 4kg
  • Add 90 minutes if the bird is over 4kg
  • Cook it at 190C (Fan 180C)/375F/Gas Mark 5
  • Cover the turkey loosely with foil and remove foil for last 40 minutes for browning, or put slices of streaky bacon on the breast to prevent it from drying out

Once the turkey is cooked, you should leave it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for a minimum of 15-20 minutes before carving.


How to carve a turkey

The cook may wish to present the roasted turkey to the assembled company for general acclaim, but if they're canny they'll then retire to the kitchen and employ Jamie Oliver's cunning turkey-carving trick. He removes each breast whole from the bone and then carves it once off the bird. It's much easier this way.

Happy festive feasting.

*If you are starting off with a frozen turkey - click here for advice on how to defrost it safely before cooking.

 

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Last updated: over 1 year ago