How to cook a turkey (the easy way)
A good turkey will make or break your Christmas dinner.
So every year, my mum and I spend hours debating over which cooking technique works best. What’s the perfect oven temperature? How often should you baste the bird? And how long should you rest it once it’s cooked? This year, to dodge any last-minute Christmas eve squabbles, Lucinda’s graced me (and you) with her tastiest turkey techniques. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, after all!
And, if you’re thinking about mixing it up, she’s also sorted us out with a beautiful roast beef recipe — which will make the perfect centrepiece for your Christmas table.
How to calculate turkey cooking times:
Working out how long to cook a turkey all depends on the weight of your bird (that’s after stuffing it).
- If your turkey weighs more than 4kg (around 9lb)
Calculate 20 minutes per kg, plus 90 minutes to finish.
- If your turkey weighs less than 4kg
Calculate 20 minutes per kg, plus 70 minutes to finish.
To help you on your way, here’s what might just be the most foolproof turkey recipe ever. It’s nice and simple, and the results are great.
- 5-6kg turkey, thawed (if frozen) and giblets removed
- 75g butter
- Salt and pepper
- Chestnut, cranberry and pine nut stuffing (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 4
- Place the turkey in a roasting tin (or dish), remove the string from the legs and open them out. If you’re making any, this is where you’ll add the stuffing to the cavity.
- Dot the softened butter over the turkey. Season with as much salt and freshly ground pepper as you like.
- Cover the bird (loosely) with a sheet or foil and seal is around the sides of the tin (this will help to keep the turkey moist).
- Calculate the cooking time (see the ‘How to calculate cooking time for a turkey’ section above).
- Baste the turkey with the buttery juices every hour or so using a baster (or a spoon) to keep it from drying out.
- Remove the foil for the final half hour of cooking time (don’t bin it – you’ll need it again later).
- Test to see if the juices run clear by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If they’re still running pink then pop the turkey back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes and check again.
- Take out of the oven and pop the foil back on.
- Rest for at least half an hour (or an hour if you can) to allow the meat to relax and tenderise.
- Carve and serve – your Christmas (or Thanksgiving) lunch is ready!
Top tips for a textbook turkey
- Your turkey is done when the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh.
- If it’s not quite ready yet, pop it back in for another 15-20 minutes before checking again.
- Leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes (an hour if you can!) before carving – this allows the meat to relax, making it easier to slice.
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