It’s not quite as straightforward as our mams made it look for all those years
With almost a month to go before the big day, it’s time to start planning your Christmas feast. If you’re used to cooking a turkey, you may not need this refresher but if it’s your first time, or if you made a hames of it last year, you’ll want to read this.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions, as well as expert tips from chef Alex Nahke and the culinary team at The Europe Hotel and Resort, to help you cook the perfect turkey this Christmas.
What size turkey should I buy?
- 2-2.5kg serves 4-6
- 3kg serves 6-7
- 3.5kg serves 7-8
- 4-4.5kg serves 8-10
- 5-5.5kg serves 10-12
- 6-6.5kg serves 12-15
How long should I cook my turkey for?
Heat your oven to 180°C/gas 4 and follow these guidelines:
4-5kg – cook 2¼ to 2½ hours
5-6kg – cook 2½ to 3 hours
6-7kg – cook 3 hours to 3½ hours
7-8kg – cook 3½ to 4 hours
8-9kg – cook 4 to 4¼ hours
9-10kg –cook 4¼ to 4½ hours
The general rule of thumb is 20 minutes per lb and 20 minutes safety.
Find out the exact weight of your bird as this will ensure the cooking time is correct and thus avoid an overcooked, dry bird or an undercooked one. Make sure your turkey fits into your oven and double check that your roasting tin is big enough and deep enough to catch all the fat and cooking juices.
How long should I leave my turkey to rest for after cooking?
4-6kg – rest for 1 ½ hours
6-10kg – rest for 2 hours
- Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas 4.
- Remove your turkey from the fridge at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before you cook it. This is to avoid shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven.
- Place a trivet of root vegetables, such as parsnip, carrots, and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make a gravy with all the juices.
- Slightly season the turkey with sea salt and black pepper, cover the turkey loosely with foil. Remove the foil for the last 40 minutes of cooking time to allow the bird to brown.
- Roast your bird for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. The safest way is to buy a temperature probe and penetrate the thigh – if it has a temperature of 70C for two minutes, that is perfect and safe.
- Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Cover loosely with foil for at least an hour while you get on with cooking the rest of your spread.
- There is no need to wash a turkey before roasting.
- The safest way of cooking the stuffing is not to stuff the turkey with it.
- Use some of the cooked turkey juices for your stuffing to add the necessary flavour.
- If you get your butcher to remove the legs, bone and roll them. You are left with the crown of the turkey which would fit better in the oven! It also cooks faster, and you will have a cleaner way of serving your turkey.
- The boned and rolled legs can be used for a normal roast over the Christmas.