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Christmas Turkey

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How to Cook Your Turkey

Take the turkey out of the fridge and its wrapping and leave it sitting on an oven rack for about an hour to adjust to room temperature (this helps soften the meat and lessen its propensity to dry out when encountering sudden high heat).

Rub oil all over the bird, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. You may also introduce butter under the skin to keep it moist. The Free Range Turkeys are not pumped with chemicals and brine and therefore tend to dry out more. For this reason I recommend that you place streaky bacon over the breast part of the bird during the cooking process, or use butter as above (we have a porcini mushroom and truffle oil butter that would work well for this purpose).

Preheat the oven to 175 deg C.

Place the turkey on the rack in the oven towards the bottom so that the top of the bird is towards the top of the oven, but not near enough to be scorched by the heating elements. It is often preferable to make a bed of roughly chopped root veggies such as onions, carrots, celery, parsnips to sit the bird on instead of the rack. I recommend that you pour into the roasting pan enough mixed red wine and water to come up to near the top of these veggies, but not enough to wet the bird. Use this mixture to baste the turkey every 45 minutes, removing it from the oven as you do, and closing the oven door each time so as not to lose your cooking temperature.

Cook for approximately 30 minutes a kilo, noteing that conventional ovens with no fan may take 40 minutes. If you use the fan then try and make sure that it is not on too high, or switch it off half way. A four kilo bird will take approximately two and a half hours, five kilos three hours, six kilos nearly four hours.

A meat thermometer is ideal and you are looking for an internal temperature of 75 Deg C. , and the last place to be cooked through is normally at the top of the thigh where it meets the breast, so check  it there. If you have no thermometer then prick it in the same place with a sharp knife and wait until the juices are running clear. Make sure to buy a thermometer in the January sales as for a big job like this they are essential !!!

If, despite your best efforts to baste and protect the breast, the breast is drying out, then protect it with tin foil for the last hour or so of cooking.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it sit for at least half an hour before serving to allow the meat to soften and the juices to be reabsorbed.

Meanwhile make a delicious gravy with the basting juices and more red wine and herbs. I like to slow cook some sliced onions for about 45 minutes (very low heat) until they are caramelised, then mix with the roasting juices and thicken with corn flour and a 50/50 water and normal milk mix. Always check for seasoning.