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    • JoBatch80
    • By JoBatch80 8th Dec 05, 5:50 PM
    • 2,136Posts
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    The Best Xmas Turkey?
    • #1
    • 8th Dec 05, 5:50 PM
    The Best Xmas Turkey? 8th Dec 05 at 5:50 PM
    Ive bought my turkey and its now happily residing in my freezer till defrost time (well, massive turkey breast thingy as there is only me and boyf!) and im now wondering what I'll do with it.

    Im pretty good at making roast chicken dinners but I know that turkey is a whole other bird and can get pretty dry if not done properly.

    As ive never cooked a xmas dinner before, I need to know what is the best way to cook the turkey, what I should/should not do, and what will make it the best turkey ever.

    Whilst im thinking of it, does anyone have any great recipies for the other bits of the dinner, e.g. stuffing, special veg, hm cranberry sauce etc??

    Jo xx
    Once you've swam in the sea, a lake will no longer do.
Page 1
    • squeaky
    • By squeaky 8th Dec 05, 6:05 PM
    • 13,808 Posts
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    • #2
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:05 PM
    • #2
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:05 PM
    There are all sorts of side dish recipes mentioned in some of the threads listed in the new Christmas sticky at the top of the board.

    As far as I can remember though, this is the first big question on cooking a turkey.
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    • bobsa1
    • By bobsa1 8th Dec 05, 6:07 PM
    • 1,896 Posts
    • 2,697 Thanks
    • #3
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:07 PM
    • #3
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:07 PM
    I saw part of an item on GMTV the other day and I think he used mincemeat under the skin, could be wrong. It looked nice so if anyone could clarify I'd love to know.

    I do know you can put butter (unsalted) or bacon under the skin to keep it moist.
  • Icemaiden
    • #4
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:21 PM
    • #4
    • 8th Dec 05, 6:21 PM
    I always cook our turkey overnight christmas eve very slowly and put it upside down with breast side in the baking tin so that all the juicers keep it nice and moist. The only downside is you have to keep getting up every two hours to check it. I only flip it over when I take the foil off right at the end to brown. I've done this two years running now after reading it in a cooking magazine and haven't had any complaints.

    As for the suffing, I must confess mine comes from M&S but I tell people I make my own!!
  • lily the pink
    • #5
    • 8th Dec 05, 7:38 PM
    • #5
    • 8th Dec 05, 7:38 PM
    Somewhere I have a recipie for cooking chicken/turkey at gas mark 1/2 - its one of those things I have been meaning to try for ages (a famous chef - the bloke who runs the restaurant in Bray does this) but it wont be at christmas!!

    My MIL always cooks the night before - I always do everything on the day as I find this less cumbersome - plus I like all the juggling food in the kitchen as it gets me out of being sociable before I have had a few drinks.

    Delia and BBC both have some ways of roasting turkey - I would go for the easiest method possible. (Partly why I get a small turkey as I find easier to do than crown)

    Make sure you defrost properly.,1238,RC.html

    I am fairly traditional with side dishes - brussels, roast or mashed parsnip, bread sauce, stuffing - will try to make my own this year (I say this every year then buy some from M&S). It will all be on the delia website.
    • JackieO
    • By JackieO 8th Dec 05, 10:52 PM
    • 16,929 Posts
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    • #6
    • 8th Dec 05, 10:52 PM
    • #6
    • 8th Dec 05, 10:52 PM
    Years ago when I had just come home from the maternity hospital after having my eldest daughter my husband and I had left it until the last minute to buy the turkey, and there was only this huge bird of 24lb left in the butchers . bearing in mind that there was only me an husband and week old daughter it seemed rather excessive but as it was only a fiver we bought it. The butcher recommended that we put it on as soon as we got home at gas mark one and cook it over night. this we did and by the following afternoon it had bee cooking for nearly 20 odd hours. We had a bit of a struggle actually getting the darned thing into the oven. It was the best turkey we had ever had it almost dropped off the carcass. Mind you the legs were like ostrich legs they were so big. We went round to our neighbours giving out huge platefuls of cooked turkey .Not many folk had freezers in 1966 and my neighbours were so pleased that we never had a problem getting baby sitters.
    Since then I always used to put the turkey on a very low heat last thing on Christmas eve,the smell in the morning is wonderful.
    Now I am on my own I don't bother with a turkey but get a small crown as there would be too much waste on a proper bird. Last year our local huge Tescos over-ordered, and just before they shut on Christmas Eve they were selling them off for £2.00. I got one and stuck it in the freezer for my daughter for Easter.She has a husband and five children so very little goes to waste there
    Quot Libros,Quam Breve Tempus.
    • silverfoxdude
    • By silverfoxdude 8th Dec 05, 10:56 PM
    • 1,285 Posts
    • 348 Thanks
    • #7
    • 8th Dec 05, 10:56 PM
    • #7
    • 8th Dec 05, 10:56 PM
    Thank god jw for asking this question, I didnt dare incase I looked a plonker.... I have never cooked a turkey before and there is one in my freezer now! I dont want to give everyone food poisoning!!!!
  • HOLsale
    • #8
    • 9th Dec 05, 12:41 AM
    • #8
    • 9th Dec 05, 12:41 AM
    As ive never cooked a xmas dinner before, I need to know what is the best way to cook the turkey, what I should/should not do, and what will make it the best turkey ever.

    Whilst im thinking of it, does anyone have any great recipies for the other bits of the dinner, e.g. stuffing, special veg, hm cranberry sauce etc??

    Jo xx
    by jw1096

    ok, some tips on great turkey... i get rave reviews doing this

    turkey has loose skin so you can stuff food underneath it
    tear a hole near the leg joint and cram the breast full of butter and roasted garlic or other herbs you like do this on both side. you can do this with the legs too but dark meat tends not to dry out so you can skip the butter but add roasted garlic and/or herbs instead

    stuff a few apples in the cavity of the bird OR if you make a stuffing without meat in it you can cook that inside. i make cornbread and sage stuffing each year and this gets cooked inside the bird. the only thing about cooking it in the bird is that you have to cook the bird longer, thus the definate need for butter under the skin (besides both the bird and the stuffing taste much better this way) DO NOT cook stuffing with meat in it inside the bird unless you want food poisoning

    ok this bit is very important... turn the bird upside down, breast side on the bottom of the pan then cover with aluminium foil. cook it until it only needs another half hour or so then turn it over (you may need help and some bbq tools for this) and cook the last half hour uncovered so the skin can brown

    i guarrantee this to be a winner!

    as for cranberry sauce

    put cranberries into a sauce pan then add just enough orange juice to make them barely start to float. add in sugar to taste you can add more at the end if need be. cook on med until most of the oj is evaporated. then grate in a generous amount of nutmeg and add cinnamon and perhaps a bit more sugar. you can also add in brandy or cointreau at this point. cook on low for a few minutes more then it's ready. keeps for several days in the fridge so this is good to do on say the 23'rd of dec

    i'll get the cornbread recipe out tomorrow then tell you how to turn that into cornbread and sage stuffing...mmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    • Chris25
    • By Chris25 9th Dec 05, 8:02 AM
    • 12,776 Posts
    • 12,609 Thanks
    • #9
    • 9th Dec 05, 8:02 AM
    • #9
    • 9th Dec 05, 8:02 AM
    All your Christmas recipes on here...
  • zar
    off with its legs!
    At least two recipes from celebrity chefs I've seen recommend removing the legs and cooking separately so you don't have to overcook the breast.

    Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recommends using the legs, wings, neck and giblets to make coq au vin and then roasting the rest unstuffed fast without drying out the breast (his recipe is in the meat cookbook but I don't like to post the whole thing here as not sure about copyright, but I'm sure there are lots of versions on the net).

    Jamie Oliver has a recipe in the first edition of delicious magazine (December 2003) for turkey with brasied leeks where you remove the legs and chop them in half and roastthem for half an hour with olive oil and onion. Then you add lots of leeks (6!) and dried porchini and wine and herbs and garlic, cover the breast with butter and bacon and put it on top of the legs/leeks that are in the roasting tray and roast for 2 hours or so.

    edit: just noticed this won't help OP as they don't have a whole turkey but hopefully might help someone else!
    This Christmas will be the first time we've cooked a turkey as we have visitors for the first time - had a chicken last year. I've done a big chicken using the Jamie Oliver recipe and it was scrummy. I think I will try HFW's suggestion this Christmas as hopefully it will give a good mixture of tasty roasted meat that isn't too dry, and tender fall off the bone meat from the legs au vin. He would be proud of us as we have ordered our turkey from our local organic farm shop 3 miles away.
    Last edited by zar; 10-12-2005 at 11:29 AM.
  • lily the pink
    Hugh Fearney Whittingstall's turkey recipies are on the BBC site ey&config=db&scope=recipes&page=1&pagesize=15&Supp ressCaching=0&attrib_26=keywords&oper_26=eq&val_26 _1=%2Bturkey&attrib_2=programme_name&oper_2=eq&val _2_1=&attrib_3=chef_name&oper_3=eq&val_3_1=Hugh+Fe arnley-Whittingstall&attrib_12=healthy&oper_12=eq&attrib_ 13=quick&oper_13=eq&attrib_10=vegetarian&oper_10=e q

    Very long link.......
    • arkonite_babe
    • By arkonite_babe 10th Dec 05, 5:15 PM
    • 7,258 Posts
    • 8,310 Thanks
    DO NOT cook stuffing with meat in it inside the bird unless you want food poisoning
    by HOLsale
    Sorry but I have to disagree here, both my Mum my Gran and I all cook our sausagemeat stuffing in this way. Gran and Mum have been doing this for over 30 years and no one has ever suffered food poisoning. We just ensure that the stuffing comes out of the bird at the end of cooking and goes in a covered dish in the oven again to finish off.

    That's my two pennies!!
    • Tim_L
    • By Tim_L 10th Dec 05, 5:58 PM
    • 3,399 Posts
    • 3,233 Thanks
    A quick plug for THE best turkeys available anywhere: Kelly Bronze from Five Ashes in Sussex. They are absolutely stunningly good, and you will never buy a frozen supermarket one again once you have tried one. I've always been spoiled for turkeys, as I was brought up near a farm that raised its own for a few neighbours and friends - these were tremendous but Kelly Bronze beat them with room to spare. They are not cheap, but worth every penny.

    Most people chronically overcook turkey, often in a kind of tinfoil sauna, I think from fear that it will be undercooked. The result is that the juices escape and the meat is dry and fluffy (and difficult to carve because it falls to pieces) rather than succulent.

    This also has a lot to do with the size of birds bought, which are often much too large and take a great deal of cooking. I buy the smallest Kelly Bronze I can get, usually about 6Kg I think, and it's still easily enough for 8 people. Cooked strictly to the instructions and rested for 40 minutes, you end up with firm juicy breast meat which is still moist for days afterwards. Resting meat is something that also terrifies people, but there is enough heat in a turkey to easily keep it piping hot until mealtime, and the results are much better. Actually this resting time allows you to be much more relaxed about getting everything ready at the appointed hour, as you can make the gravy and roast the spuds during this time, with plenty of time for the veg.

    One old style treat after Christmas is to keep most of the dripping in a jug in the fridge - absolutely the best thing on hot toast that there is.

    Oh, one other thing too for people like me who don't like boiled sprouts. These are delicious small, parboiled then fried in butter with chopped bacon and the turkey liver cleaned carefully and diced (it's not good in giblet gravy in my experience, often being a little bitter).
    • nearlyrich
    • By nearlyrich 10th Dec 05, 6:16 PM
    • 13,335 Posts
    • 16,542 Thanks
    I buy a fresh turkey or the breast of a fresh turkey depends on whether we want legs LOL... just cook it long and slow, the smell nearly makes my veggie brother a carnivore when he calls on Christmas eve.

    I use an old family recipe for sage and onion stuffing, breadcrumbs lots of softened onions and fresh sage, bind with an egg, dot with butter and cook in a low oven ( I feel hungry thinking about it).
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  • jack92
    I normally put a couple of halved lemons in the cavity of the turkey before roasting, gives the meat a lovely flavour. My neighbour used to do the same but with onions instead.

    • Sarahsaver
    • By Sarahsaver 11th Dec 05, 1:53 PM
    • 8,219 Posts
    • 13,174 Thanks
    shove a lemon or an apple up its **** and it will be moist and juicy. Cover the top to stop it drying out. Tin foil will do, forget delia and her butter soaked muslin, life's too short! Bacon is a good lubricating covering as well but i wouldn't put it on at the start else the bacon wil dry out.
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    • bobsa1
    • By bobsa1 13th Dec 05, 7:58 PM
    • 1,896 Posts
    • 2,697 Thanks
    Just saw a this morning and Ferns husband, the chef, cooked turkey on a bed of veg. Poured half a bottle of wine, some hot water and a stock cube into the tray, brought to boil, covered in foil and cooked for a couple of hours. Removed foil, poured off juices to make gravy and basted with butter to brown.

    It looked lovely.
  • HOLsale
    i promised to tell you how to make my famous cornbread stuffing so here goes

    first you make the cornbread

    Amish Corn Bread

    1 c. sifted flour
    1/4 c. sugar
    1 tbsp. baking powder
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1 c. yellow cornmeal (polenta is fine)
    1 egg, well beaten
    1 c. milk
    5 tbsp. melted butter or bacon grease

    Sift first 4 ingredients. Mix in cornmeal. Blend egg, milk, shortening until mixed. Add to dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Use greased (bottom only) 8x8x2 pan. Bake 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

    i actually make this in my cast iron skillet and i do a double batch because we love it so much. a double batch will fill a large cast iron skillet nicely. the other tip for moist cornbread is to put another skillet half full of water on the bottom shelf, makes the best cornbread ever!

    now that you've made the cornbread let it cool (though you should probably 'test' it while it's warm, cut a pie slice slice the pie slice in half as if you're making a sandwich then butter heavily mmmmmmmmmm heaven¨)

    ok while the cornbread is cooling you should finely chop some onion and celery. for a double batch of cornbread i'd use 2 large onions and 4-5 stalks celery. you'll need sage as well, i like a lot but you can add as you see fit.

    you may also wish to add some chestnuts though i prefer it without.

    when it's all chopped and the cornbread is cool crumble the cornbread into small pieces in a large bowl. add enough chicken stock to moisten and make it sticky. add in your onion and celery mix well, add sage and mix well. give it a taste... it may need salt and you can add a touch of garlic granules if you like.

    once that's done you can stuff it inside the cavity of the bird if you want. it's ok because it's already all cooked and has no meat BUT you MUST cook the bird longer to allow it to cook properly because the juices will run inside it, basically weigh the bird stuffed then cook it according to that weight. also cook the bird breast side down for all but the last half hour as that makes it nice and juicy despite a longer cooking time

    if you don't want to stuff the bird with it you can just cook it in the oven for approx half hour at about 180C til it's warmed through and a bit crunchy on top bon appetit!
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    • beachbeth
    • By beachbeth 14th Dec 05, 7:51 AM
    • 3,690 Posts
    • 7,792 Thanks
    Most people chronically overcook turkey, often in a kind of tinfoil sauna, I think from fear that it will be undercooked. The result is that the juices escape and the meat is dry and fluffy (and difficult to carve because it falls to pieces) rather than succulent.
    by Tim_L
    I agree. It is true that the longer you cook your turkey the drier it will be. I would be horrified if my husband (who is in charge of the Christmas dinner each year and does it brilliantly) cooked the turkey slowly overnight! It would be as dry as a bone!

    We cook our turkey in half the time other people do by following the advice of a tv chef (I think it was Anthony Worrall Thomson). What you do is, instead of cooking it lying on its breast or the other way up, you lie the turkey on its side (no foil on it). This can be difficult to do and we have to stick forks into it to hold it into place! Because only a small part of the turkey is touching the bottom of the tin it cookes really quickly. (18lb in about 2 hours!)

    Believe me, no one is more paranoid than me about salmonella and we carefully check it over for blood each year when it comes out of the oven. We then sit it on the work top, cover with foil and it has a nice rest for an hour or so and is still piping hot when we carve it. Because it has been cooked for a shorter time it is absolutely succulent!
    • beachbeth
    • By beachbeth 14th Dec 05, 7:52 AM
    • 3,690 Posts
    • 7,792 Thanks
    PS We don't stuff it as you would have to cook for longer. We cook the stuffing separately.
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