The turkey roast at Christmas dinner is a firm tradition and it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without it. Make sure your perfectly cooked bird is the centrepiece of the table, and one that leaves people coming back for seconds and hankering for turkey sandwiches long after the dinner table has been cleared.
If you’re a “can’t cook, won’t cook” chef, you might find roasting a turkey from scratch a daunting task, but in actual fact it can be achieved and without taking too much away from the festivities and fun on Christmas Day. Simple planning and having your equipment close to hand will turn that turkey into a dining masterpiece instead of a dismal dinner offering.
With so many kitchen gadgets available, as well as putting your trust in an excellent oven, you’ll steer clear of any food poisoning dangers or dodgy meals that put a dampener on your holiday fun.
From the preparation to the perfect timing, read on for our foolproof method for how to make your turkey the highlight of the day (for the adults at least), as well as ensure you have plenty left over for those all-important Boxing Day sandwiches.
- A 5.5kg (12lb) free-range turkey (this can be smaller or bigger depending how many you wish to serve)
- 120g of softened butter
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- Coarse sea salt
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
1. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius/Gas mark 7.
2. Remove the neck and giblets from your turkey and put them to one side as they can be used later for stuffing or gravy.
3. Place the turkey onto a roasting rack or into a roasting tin, and starting from the neck of your bird, begin to loosen the skin from the meat.
4. Rub the softened butter onto the breast meat and under the skin, ensuring the entire bird has a good coating.
5. Rub more butter on top of the skin before seasoning the bird well with sea salt.
6. Place the lemon halves in the cavity of the turkey – this will keep the insides moist while it roasts.
7. Roast the turkey for 30 to 40 minutes until the skin is a golden brown colour, and then remove and brush with more softened butter.
8. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius/Gas mark 4. Then fill your turkey with your favourite stuffing before covering the bird in tin foil to prevent further browning and to seal in the juices.
9. Continue to check on your bird and baste every 40 minutes with softened butter, or by spooning the turkey juices that collect at the bottom of the roasting tin.
10. Roast until the turkey is fully cooked, usually about 3 ½ hours later. The simplest way to tell whether or not your turkey is ready to serve is by checking the thickest part of the leg with a meat thermometer, or by checking that the juices run clear.
Tips and tricks
- It might sound obvious, but make sure your turkey can fit in your oven. It’s a laughable mistake that many have made, but make sure it has enough room for hot air to circulate around the meat and ensure it cooks evenly throughout.
- Make sure you have all the basic tools and equipment at the ready to ensure your cooking goes smoothly.
- Leftover turkey should never go to waste – there are plenty of tasty recipes to be found that will use up any leftovers and create delicious meals for days afterwards.
Whilst feeding your nearest and dearest can be time-consuming, don’t let making a delicious turkey dinner become a tricky task. Plan your time and have all your ingredients and tools close by, and your Christmas dinner will go without a hitch – leaving you time to focus on eating, drinking and getting merry!