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