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.
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Kelly Turkeys to put together a checklist of helpful tips, tricks, timings and advice to make sure that your centrepiece is a real showstopper.
- First things first, make sure your turkey is going to fit into the oven. Does it? Good.
- You’re going to need a roasting tin that’s big enough for the bird with room to spare, and deep enough to catch all the fat and cooking juices.
- 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.
- Get your timings right. And don’t forget to leave time for your turkey to rest when it comes out of the oven. Turkeys between 4-6kg should be rested for 1½ hours, and ones from 6-10kg can rest for two hours.
- Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4
4-5kg – cook 2¼ to 2½ hours
5-6kg – cook 2½ to 3 hours
6-7kg – cook 3 hours to 3½ hours
7-8kg – cook 3½ to 4 hours
8-9kg – cook 4 to 4¼ hours
9-10kg – cook 4¼ to 4½ hours
- Get your turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven.
- Always preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking your turkey.
- Place a trivet of veggies and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make an epic gravy with all the juices.
- Cover the turkey loosely with foil, but remove it just under an hour before the timing is up to get the turkey nicely browned.
- Roast your bird for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer.
- Supermarket high-welfare turkey should be cooked to an internal temperature of 70ºC. If you have a dry-plucked, dry-aged, excellent quality bird, you can cook it to 65ºC, as it should be a safer product to eat.
- Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Cover loosely with foil for at least an hour while you get on cooking your roast potatoes.
For more advice on buying, preparing and cooking your turkey, check out our ultimate guide.
If you’ve got any tips and tricks for the perfect turkey up your sleeve, please share them with us on Twitter @JamieOliverCom.