Turkey tips for a Happy Christmas

cooked turkey

NOTE: Ok so I forgot to post this here before Christmas and before you would actually need it! It was published in The Western People on the 21st December in good time for Christmas!

 

The Christmas day dinner is all about timing but more importantly having time yourself to enjoy it, not sweating and slaving over a dinner that’s going to be devoured, let’s face it, probably in 30 minutes flat.

I usually do the cooking in our house as there’s less call for the fire brigade that way. I used to be a purist about the turkey. I always wanted the whole roasted bird in all its glory for carving on the day. I maintained that the whole bird roast was needed to make good gravy. I was converted two years ago by a butcher that I know well (the hubby) to try boning, rolling and stuffing both the breasts and the legs separately. This meant that the breasts went into the oven much earlier than the legs and both emerged perfectly cooked and still wonderfully moist. And you could use two different types of stuffing to satisfy everyone’s taste.

I had a roomier oven to cook all my veggies as we love simply roasted root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and parsnips not to mention the goose fat roasted potatoes. But I still had the problem of the gravy as very little pan juices would come from the boneless bird. I decided to roast the carcass of the turkey on Christmas Eve on a regular roasting tray and make the gravy using these pan juices and a stock made out of the giblets. So the gravy along with the ham and the stuffing, was made the day before. As a result I only had one pot on the hob on Christmas day for mashed potatoes and a very tidy kitchen!

It’s on the cards again for this year but for you purists out there, I have below some cooking times for the whole turkey and the ham and a fool-proof turkey gravy recipe.

Have a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year everyone.

Roasting the Christmas Turkey

You will need c. 300g butter, at room temperature.

  • Preheat your oven to 190⁰C/375⁰F/Gas Mark
  • Weigh your stuffed bird and calculate the cooking time: 15 minutes per pound up to 14lb and for each extra pound allow 10 minutes. Therefore, a 14lb turkey will take 3 ½ hours and a 20lb turkey will take 4 ½ hours.
  • Place the bird in a large roasting tin, breast-side up.
  • Use your hands to loosen the skin from the breast and the legs taking care not to tear the skin. Rub half the butter under the skin and the other half over the skin. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the turkey with foil and roast for 40 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 170⁰C and cook until 30 minutes from the end of the cooking time, basting occasionally.
  • Remove the foil and cook for the remainder of the time to brown.
  • Juices will run clear when cooked – Internal temperature of 74⁰C.

The Christmas Ham – cooking times and glazes

  • Cooking times for ham:

Up to 4 ½lb in weight, allow 30 minutes to the pound and 30 minutes over;  4 ½ – 10lb, allow 20 minutes to the pound and 20 minutes over. Extra-large ham times roughly are: 12lb = 3 ½ hrs; 16lb = 4hrs; 20lb = 4 ½ hrs; 24lb = 5 hrs.

  • Put the ham in a very large pan, cover in cold water and bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Discard this water and fill pan again either with just water or a mixture of water and cider. Add a chopped onion, carrot and celery along with a bouquet of parsley, bay leaves and thyme tied together. Cook for the calculated time.
  • IF GLAZING, remove the ham 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  • Remove the skin and cut a diamond pattern into the fat. Preheat oven to 190⁰C/375⁰F/Gas 5.
  • Mix together 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, 1 tablespoon muscavado sugar, 1 tablespoon honey. Smear all over the ham. Stud the diamonds with whole cloves in the traditional way.
  • Or I also like to slice an orange thinly and stud the slices with the cloves onto the ham prior to glazing.

Cooked Christmas Ham

Great Turkey Gravy

You will need: 1.9l pan dripping from the roast turkey; 200g butter; black pepper; 170g plain flour. Extra thinners can include red wine, marsala.

  • Drain pan juices from the roast turkey through a strainer and allow to sit. Skim the settled fat off the top.
  • Make up the juices to 1.9 litres using either chicken stock or stock made with the giblets (boil the giblet in some water with onion, peppercorns, carrot).
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a very low heat and add freshly ground black pepper.
  • Add the flour and whisk continuously for 3-4 minutes over a low heat.
  • Slowly add the turkey juices and stock, whisking constantly over a medium heat until bubbly and thickened.
  • To thin the gravy slightly and add flavour and complexity, use some red wine or Marsala wine.
  • Taste and season if required. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

 

 

Published in the Western People 21st December 2015.

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