Cooking the Christmas turkey can be stressful or if you follow these 10 easy steps, you’ll have a bird that will earn compliments all round.
Along with high expectations from family members, who usually don’t hold back when it comes to comments, and boiling hot Christmas weather, this is a tricky job only practised once a year. I’ve done a dummy run this year and cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving. I didn’t stuff the bird as stuffing requires longer cooking times and this can dry out the meat. If you really love stuffing you can cook it separately.
Check the seven deadly sins of Christmas lunch for more tips
First brine your turkey! Get a largish flat bucket that should be able to fit in your fridge. I used an old bucket that was great for washing up when camping. Boil together a cup of salt, half a cup of brown sugar, some peppercorns and what ever herbs you like (ginger, thyme, rosemary are good) in a large saucepan. You can also add chicken stock for a richer flavour.
Put the turkey breast down in the bucket and pour over the cool mixture. It needs to cover most of the bird although you can turn it over half way through. Do this the evening before or the morning you are going to cook the turkey. Keep it in the fridge until a short time before you are ready to cook. The turkey needs to come up to room temperature and you’ll have to pat down the skin so it’s dry and make sure there is no excess moisture in the cavity. You can fill the cavity with more herbs and aromatics before cooking for extra flavour.
Baste the turkey with a layer of bacon butter (4 rashers bacon, rosemary, thyme and 200 gm butter processed together till smooth) under the breast skin. I used my very favourite Berkshire bacon that I purchased from Shulte’s Meat Tavern on the Warrego Highway. You might also find it at The Stores, West End.
Use a meat thermometer which connects via an app to your smart phone. You can set the temperature you want the meat to reach (the app gives you tips on best cooking times) and watch the temperature rise on your phone while you are doing the rest of the work.
Don’t burn the bird this Christmas!
Here are these 10 tips to serve up a five-star meal that’s sure to impress the whole family.
1. Thaw turkey for 24hours per 2kg i.e. 4kg turkey will take 48hours to thaw
2. Always thaw in the lowest shelf of your fridge – never on the bench top or sink
3. Tress the turkey (i.e. tie legs and wings together and put foil on the ends) to avoid the tips from burning
4. Place breast-side up on baking dish, and brush with oil/butter and seasoning
5. Cook for 45min per kilo (55min if stuffed) at 200°C for the first 30min, then at 175°C thereafter. I cooked my 3.7 kilo turkey for about 1.5 hours. I set the ‘cooked’ temperature on the BBQ buddy at 74 degrees and took it out when it reached 67 to allow for the continued cooking while the meat rests.
6. Cook uncovered on racked baking dish suspended above a small amount of water.
7. Once turkey is golden brown, cover with foil to prevent burning, and continue cooking time.
8. Don’t be a peeping tom – opening the oven door can result in uneven cooking! If you’ve got a BBQ Buddy you’ll feel a lot more confident about leaving it be.
9. For best results, carve using a sharp or electric knife
10. Store any leftover turkey in foil with seasoning removed