You just cannot beat sitting around a table with loved ones on Christmas day enjoying a succulent roast turkey with all the trimmings. However, those not having to cook it often don’t realise the pressure felt by the person responsible for cooking what is the most important meal of the year. For the many who slave away over this meal every Christmas, turkeys can start haunting their dreams by early November! If this sounds like you, don’t panic, I have a few great tips to get the best out of your Christmas turkey.
First of all, if you can, buy a fresh turkey rather than frozen. When a frozen turkey thaws the melting ice can draw moisture out of the bird leaving it dry. Another issue many people face is whether to truss the turkey or not. It is said that tying the legs of the bird not only looks better but helps it cook more evenly. This is generally true but you must make sure you do not tie it too tight as this will have the opposite effect with some parts cooking much quicker than others. Also, if you prefer crispier skin it is better not to truss at all. Last, but by no means least, you must let the turkey rest. When it comes out of the oven give it a good 20 minutes as it will be easier to carve and more succulent.
This recipe includes how to make bread sauce which is a thick, creamy sauce and makes the perfect accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken.
- 5kg turkey
- 55g butter
- 400ml chicken stock (fresh or from stock cube)
- 1 tbsp. cornflour
- 1 tsp French mustard
- tsp sherry vinegar
- 1 peeled onion
- 4 cloves
- 600ml milk
- 115g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 55g butter
- Salt and pepper
- Place the turkey in a large roasting tin and rub all over with 40g of the butter.
- Place in an oven pre-heated to 200C and roast for 1 hour. After an hour lower the temperature to 180C and roast for another 2 ½ hours. To help it cook better, sporadically pour off the fat from the tin.
- While turkey is cooking you can make the bread sauce. Push the cloves into the onion and put in a saucepan with the breadcrumbs, butter and milk. Over a low heat bring it just to boiling point; remove from heat and leave to stand in a warm place. This will allow the flavour of the onion and cloves to infuse into the sauce.
- Before serving, remove onion and gently reheat sauce while beating it with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
- To ensure the turkey is thoroughly cooked insert a skewer into the thigh; if the juices run clear then it is ready. Take it out of the oven and place onto a suitable carving dish. Loosely cover it with tin foil and leave it to rest for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile you can make the gravy. Skim the fat from the roasting tin and place the tin over a medium heat. Add the red wine; stirring it with a wooden spoon to ensure sediment doesn’t sink to the bottom.
- Stir in chicken stock.
- In a small bowl mix together the cornflour, mustard, vinegar and 2 teaspoons of water. Then stir this into the wine and stock.
- Bring mixture to the boil stirring consistently until it is thick and smooth. Stir in any remaining butter.
- Carve the turkey and serve with bread sauce and all the trimmings!