Friday, 21 December 2012

It's just a roast 2012 - turkey lurkey time!

Following on from last year's "It's just a roast" mantra I had planned originally to continue in that theme with this year's Christmas posts. However, time, work and circumstance seem to have meant that it's suddenly the 21st December, the world hasn't ended but I've barely posted. 

If you're me and a thirteenth hour Kate - you'll have watched Jamie, Nigella, Nigel, and anyone else on telly this last week and got loads of good ideas only to find out that the cranberries, star anise, shiny new must-have ingredient is sold out. Unless I'm prepared, I stick to the way of cooking below... it's simple enough and means that I can swap and change out my side dishes/ stuffings to make things different.

So in a final fit of organisation I'm sat down on my afternoon off and thought I'd add in some posts to go live over the next few days, they'll be picture light as I'm away from home, but I will add in photos as soon as I can. 

Let's work on the basis you're cooking a turkey - first things first we need to consider the food safety angle. The Food Standards Agency has got some guidance on their website to make sure that you're storing and cooking the turkey in the best way possible to stay healthy, safe and well. 

Although you need to store the bird somewhere cold - you want it at room temperature before you start cooking, so take it out about an hour before you want to start.

I don't stuff the turkey, in my eyes it makes timings more difficult and personally I prefer my stuffing cooked separately. 

Preheat your oven to gas mark 5, 190 degrees C

Make some herbed butter, I season unsalted butter with a little bit of sage, parsley, salt and pepper - but use herbs you like and that would go with what else you're serving with your dinner. 

Put an onion, carrot and a satsuma in the turkey cavity.

Separate the skin of the turkey from the breast by sliding your clean hand between the two and using a side to side motion to gently split them. (It's times like this I really should get M to film me) Then, again using your hand, push the butter under the skin, and almost massage the butter in. Do this on both sides of the breast, and with any remaining butter put more over the widest part of the leg, and the wing.

There are lots of different timings knocking around on the internet and in families, but I think this is the easiest way to work it out - and it worked well on a test turkey recently.  Working out your cooking times is easy when you know three main things:
  • 20 minutes per kilo
  • Add 90 minutes to the total cooking time if your turkey weighs more than 4kg
  • Add 70 minutes to the total cooking time if your turkey weighs less than 4kg

Even with these cooking times test your turkey is cooked by inserting a skewer where the thigh meets the breast. If the juices run clear you're done!

If this doesn't help - or you're feeling flustered why not try this:

The British Turkey helpline, 0800 783 9994, is open from 9am-5pm every weekday right up to Christmas Eve. Or text the word 'turkey', followed by the weight of your bird in kilos, to 64446 and you you'll get an instant answer on the cooking time and how many it will feed. This service starts on 1 December and runs 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. (Texts are charged at standard network rate.)

Once the turkey is cooked, we wrap it in foil and then the foil in old bath towels until you're ready to carve and serve. We normally leave it to rest like this for about 30 minutes to an hour as, having a single oven we need the space for the roasties! 

Tomorrow's post, what can you do in advance... 

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