...if you need some guidance on how to prep & cook your turkey this Christmas, read on...
* Buy a small turkey – I’ve never heard anyone say they regretted not buying a bigger one!!
* Buy the best quality that you can afford – its Christmas time, of course cost comes into it.
* To get the most succulent, flavoursome result, brining your turkey is the way to go – brining is simply soaking the turkey overnight in a salted water solution. You can add herbs, spices, garlic & citrus to the brining liquid so little extras like bay leaf, lemon, peppercorns, garlic, allspice, cloves, orange rind etc all add extra flavour in there too. (See below for instructions on how to brine a turkey)
* Prepping your turkey is half the battle! I usually combine 150g softened butter with 3 tbsp of olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, the zest & juice of 1 lemon, a big bunch of chopped flat-leaf parsley, sea salt & lots of black pepper. Then loosen the skin on the crown of the turkey with your fingers & smear half of this gorgeous, flavoured butter underneath the turkey skin spreading it out & smoothing it down. Smear the remaining butter on top of the turkey crown & all over the legs & wings too – not the most pleasant of jobs but it will add savage flavour & keep the bird mega moist! Don’t forget to season the cavity too & pop a quartered onion in there while you’re at it! Adds wonderful sweetness!
* Make sure your turkey is at room temperature for at least 2 hours before you cook it.
* Allow 30 mins per KG – so a 5kg turkey will need 2.5 hours in the oven. Remember if you are stuffing it, weight it after the stuffing has gone in.
* Preheat the oven to 220 & cook the turkey for 10 mins, then take it out, cover the crown with lots of streaky bacon, reduce the oven to 170 fan & cook for the remaining time.
* If you are using a meat thermometer the turkey is done when the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 74 Celsius.
* Cover the cooked bird with foil & rest rest rest it for at least 1 hour – it’s a big bird – trust me it won’t go cold! Resting allows the bird to reabsorb the juices & makes it much easier to carve. Plus, it frees up your oven for the roasties & braised red cabbage etc!
How to Brine a Turkey
To brine a 5kg turkey, pop 5 litres of water into a big pot or bucket. Add 200g flaky sea salt, 50g sugar & whatever little extras you might like – I’ll be adding 2 tbsp black peppercorns, a few bay leaves, 1 tbsp allspice berries, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 skin on quartered onions & the peel of an orange. Submerge the turkey in the liquid & leave to steep overnight. If you haven’t space in the fridge, just leave it in the coldest part of your house – the utility room in my case!! The next day pat the meat dry & get it ready for the oven. Brining is simple so don’t be afraid to try it.
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Happy happy Christmas to you all & see you in 2022!!