Video thumbnail, Christmas: How to make a classic oven roasted turkey
Most people only cook turkey once a year so would be forgiven for making a mess of it .
It shouldn’t be a nightmare though and we promise it won’t with this fool-proof guide to getting a tasty juicy and satisfying Christmas turkey.
And as food is so important we asked the experts at Waitrose for their tips on on turkey cooking times and all things related to the iconic Christmas dinner staple.
Why do we eat turkey at Christmas?
Eating turkey at Christmas is a tradition going back to medieval times. Large fowl was the centre piece in the houses of the rich; Geese, duck, partridge but to name a few. Turkeys were introduced in the Tudor times and because of the plentiful meat on them, they soon grew in popularity. In post war Britain, modern farming methods facilitated more turkeys to be reared and the traditional turkey is still the most popular meat to eat over the festive period.
How do I pick a Christmas turkey?
There’s lots to choose from but start with how many people you are going to feed. Whole birds are the best value and the leftovers of the turkey are great for cooking stock. Crowns and breast on the bone crowns are easier to carve as the leg bones have been removed. For the ultimate convenience, the joints are easy to carve and come in a foil tray to cook the joint in, there’s also no waste. For those who need a gluten free stuffed turkey, we have our gluten free stuffed turkey parcel with a pork gingerbread and apricot stuffing.
What are the benefits of fresh over frozen turkeys?
Fresh turkeys are ready to cook, whereas with a frozen turkey, you have to ensure you’ve allowed time for it to defrost. At Waitrose we enable our customers to order their fresh turkeys and pick it up when it is convenient for them.
Why do some turkeys cost more than others?
The cost of the bird depends on the breed of the turkey, how long it is grown for and whether it is free range or grown indoors. All of these factors will affect the cost.
How to cook a turkey?
First make sure that you check your oven. All ovens runs at different temperatures and not necessarily the one that it says on the dial. All cooking instructions are checked in ovens that have been calibrated and so to get the best from your turkey, this is a must.
Take your turkey, put butter under the skin and season the skin. Cover with foil which you tuck under the turkey not over the tin.
Preheat the oven to 140C and then cook in the oven for 23 minutes per kg plus 2hr and 40 mins – long and slow. This allows the turkey to cook gently ensuring a moist turkey as the end result.
Half an hour before the end of the cook, remove the foil and return to the oven to crisp the skin. Remember to check that the turkey is cooked by piercing the turkey to check that the juices run clear.
Leave to rest for at least half an hour. If you wrap in foil, the turkey will stay warm for an hour. When you take your turkey out of the oven it will continue to cook.
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What are the best turkey cooking times?
At Waitrose, our turkey crowns – which are the breast in the bone without the legs and wings- come in a cooking bag which helps to cook the crown more quickly.
Preheat the oven to 140C and cook for 29 mins per kg plus 1hr 17 mins.
If you want a crisp skin, take the cooking bag off 30 mins before the end of the cook.
For more information check our article on how long you need to cook a turkey .
Turkey recipe from Jonathan Moore, Waitrose Executive Chef
A good size of turkey for the average family is 6.4kg oven-ready. This will easily feed 8 people with plenty left over for Boxing Day. Waitrose Bronze Feathered Free Range Turkey is an excellent choice. As there are so many accompaniments to the traditional lunch it is best to keep the turkey fairly simple.
6.4kg Waitrose Bronze Feathered Free Range Turkey
125g softened butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4. Remove the giblets from the turkey. Calculate the cooking time allowing 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes.
Spread the butter over the turkey making sure that the thighs are particularly well covered. Place the bird breast-side down in a large roasting tin then season the turkey well with salt and pepper.
Cover the turkey loosely with a large tent of turkey foil leaving plenty of space between the flesh and the foil. Secure the foil around the edges of the roasting tin.
Cook the turkey for the calculated cooking time but remove the foil for the last 45 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C, gas mark 6 when you remove the foil and turn the turkey breast-side up. Baste frequently with the juices during this last period of cooking.
Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. If the turkey is cooked through the juices should run clear. If not cook the turkey for longer. Always check the turkey is cooked using this method – don’t guess! Tip the turkey to let the juices run into the tin then place it onto a warmed carving plate. Cover the turkey loosely with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the turkey juices to rise to the surface, making the turkey more succulent to eat and easier to carve.
If you don’t want a whole turkey, or your family prefer white meat, choose a Waitrose Turkey Breast Crown. They are quicker to cook and very simple to carve with no waste.
Wine for turkey will-ferrell elf