Choosing your perfect roast
This is probably the most important decision you will need to make. I have tried all sorts of different types of turkeys and turkey joints over the years but essentially you need to choose what is best for your family, bearing in mind your numbers, the size of your oven, what your family enjoy most and how long you would like to be cooking for.
Speak with one of our experienced team of skilled butchers if you need any help or advice. For my numbers 23 to 28, each year I have one large turkey breast from a 30 pound (15kg) free-range bronze turkey generously wrapped in dry cured streaky bacon plus one boned and rolled turkey leg from the same bird (a good local butcher will do this for you). Not all my family like leg meat so this would not be enough leg meat for 23 people.
The best way to cook and rest your turkey for moist and delicious meat
We aim to eat at 1pm so I put the turkey breast and rolled leg into a pre-heated oven on 150- 160 degrees C at 9.30am on Christmas morning.
I take the turkey out after the first hour and check the temperature with a meat temperature probe. If the turkey is at 50 degrees C at that stage, I turn it around and put it back in the oven setting the timer for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes I take it out of the oven and probe it again. This is important as it gives you a second reading which indicates how quickly your turkey is cooking.
So, for instance if your turkey is then at 60 degrees C you know it is increasing by 10 degrees every 30 minutes and it should now be around 11am. The aim is to have the turkey cooked to 73 to 75 degrees C by mid-day or just before. This leaves my oven free for everything else I need to cook for the last hour before Christmas lunch is to be served.
Once your turkey reaches 75 degrees C you need to ideally transfer it to a separate warm roasting tin, cover the turkey with two layers of tin foil and seal completely to keep the heat in. 75 degrees C is the safe temperature as advised by environmental health professionals.
In addition, cover the tin foil with a large thick kitchen towel then leave your covered turkey on top of your oven where it is warm but not on any heat to start the resting period.
You now have the turkey juices from the original roasting tin to use to finish your gravy and have your oven free to use for whatever else you need to roast through your oven.
When you are ready to carve, your turkey will be beautifully rested, tender, moist and ready to serve. Don’t worry if your turkey rests for an hour or even a little longer it will still be piping hot and perfect.
Give the team a call to reserve your turkey for Christmas at our Abingdon butchers - 01235 523295 or our new Botley butchers - 01865 242318. Collection can be arranged from either shop and this year we have handmade delicious Christmas extras to choose from such as our Chicken Liver and Brandy Paté, 8" Iced Christmas Cake and richly filled mince pies.
Written by Michael Ashton, owner of Elegant Cuisine and Hedges Butchers
Images freely sourced from Pinterest
When it comes to laying the perfect Christmas table be it for four guests or fourteen, it is always good to begin with your table centre piece. Be it a festive wreath with berries, poinsettia in a basket or an array of candles, start with this and then work the rest of the table around it.
However, be prepared that space is at a premium on most Christmas dinner tables so when the main course arrives make sure it’s easy enough to move if you need to fit the turkey on!
A traditional Christmas table setting is one of my favourites and it all begins with a charger plate, after placing these where I want my guests to sit I lay the cutlery and glassware around them, traditionally starter and main cutlery are to the sides of your plate and dessert cutlery at the top, but all cutlery at the side of the plates works really well if your table is quite thin.
My top tip for cutlery is always work your way from the outside in with your cutlery so your dessert spoon and fork will be closest to your plate.
Special Poinsettia Cocktail Recipe
When it comes to Christmas glassware it all depends on what your favourite Christmas tipple might be, I usually greet guests with a champagne cocktail called Poinsettia which is champagne, mixed with cranberry juice and a touch of orange liqueur.
The cocktail is a festive red colour and starts the celebrations off perfectly. For the dinner I would suggest a water, white wine and red wine glass on the table, however, again, if the space is tight then one wine glass will suffice.
How to add a stylish personal touch
I love to make my festive table a little more personal so often create name places for my guests either to sit in front of their plate or on a card that lays on their napkin. Another lovely option is to place a small sprig of holly with a couple of berries on a linen napkin to give the place setting an extra touch.
With Christmas colour schemes I tend to start with a metallic either gold or silver, then add touches of colour around them. You could go with a Skandi theme of bare wood, with silver, ice white and blue touches. Or a very decadent scheme with golds, deep purples and aubergines. Sometimes though you just can’t beat the classic green, red and gold!
A Christmas table, no matter how old or sensible you think you are must always be finished with crackers!
There are several ways that you can place the crackers on the table to enhance the setting, whether that is diagonally across the napkin, to the side of the charger plate in line with the cutlery, above the pace setting, or if space allows an arranged pile of crackers can look really fun.
My Christmas table is always reflective of who we are having for dinner, it’s about striking the balance of it looking great, being functional and not so ‘put together’ that you despair when a child’s wondering hands pulls some leaves off of your poinsettia.
Remember, it’s a time to celebrate so enjoy your table setting before everyone sits down, then dig into the best meal of the year!
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, it's certainly our favourite time of year. Please do like and make comments, we'd love to hear how your day went and if you tried our favourite Christmas cocktail.
Be Eventful is a professional wedding planning, events organiser for both personal and corporate customers. Please do check our website out for more details and get in touch if we can help plan or host your special occasion at www.beeventful.uk or call Bayley direct on 01865 818166.