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According to chef Tommy Banks, the secret to making a moist and tasty turkey is to separate the thighs from the breasts as the brown meat takes longer to cook than the white meat. He shared his number one hack: “When roasting the whole bird, the key is to cook the legs longer than the breast.
“Once the breast is cooked, remove the bird from the oven, remove the legs and then put them back in. This stops the breasts drying out,” he explained.
Another useful tip is using a roasting rack. “Though you don’t technically need one, a roasting rack allows the air to circulate around the bottom of your turkey in the oven, which means that soggy skin is way less of a risk,” Tommy explained.
Before the turkey goes in the oven and while it roasts, he recommended people add a lot of butter. “It’s key for crispy, flavourful, golden skin. Use more butter than you feel comfortable with,” he said.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also shared his best turkey recipe as well as his “tips and timings for perfect turkey”. He explained: “There are fewer things more daunting than staring at a gigantic, naked turkey on Christmas morning, especially if you’ve never cooked one before.
“But it doesn’t have to be all Nightmare Before Christmas! We’re here so that when your guests start arriving on the big day, you aren’t flapping about your bird being raw or undercooked.”
Jamie Oliver and experts at Kelly Turkeys shared the most helpful tips, timings and advice to make sure that “your centrepiece is a real showstopper”.
People should start by making sure that the turkey is going to fit in their oven, they explained. A roasting tin that is big enough will also be needed. It needs to be deep enough to catch the juices and it needs extra room around the turkey.
“Make a note of the weight of your bird, and check it again if you have scales big enough at home. Knowing the exact weight will ensure the cooking time is correct, and thus avoid an overcooked and dry bird, or a raw one,” Jamie recommended.
The chef added: “Get your timings right. And don’t forget to leave time for your turkey to rest when it comes out of the oven.”
Turkeys should rest for one and a half hours to two hours depending on their weight. For a smaller bird, from 4-6kg, one and a half hours is enough while bigger turkeys, from 6-10kg, will need longer.
How long to cook turkey depending on its weight:
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas four
4-5kg – cook between two hours 15 minutes to two hours and a half
5-6kg – cook between two hours and a half to three hours
6-7kg – cook between three hours to three and a half hours
7-8kg – cook between three and a half hours to four hours
8-9kg – cook between four hours to four hours and 15 minutes
9-10kg – cook between four hours and 15 minutes to four hours and a half
It is also very important to take the turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking it. “You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven,” Jamie explained.
Preheating the oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking is key as well as placing a trivet of vegetables at the bottom of the tray to make “an epic gravy” with the cooking juices.
While cooking the turkey, cover it loosely with foil and remove it under an hour before the timing is up “to get the turkey nicely browned”.
A way to tell if the turkey has been in the oven for the right amount of time is by piercing the thigh with a knife or a skewer and seeing if the juices run clear.
The ideal turkey temperature varies depending on the type of bird that people purchase. Supermarket high-welfare turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 70C.
However, if Britons opt for a dry-plucked, dry-aged, excellent quality bird, they can cook it to 65C, as it is a safer product to eat.
After the turkey has been cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and place it on a board. Cover it loosely with foil for at least an hour while cooking the roast potatoes.
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