Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Perfect Roast Turkey

The Perfect meat
So here it is, the big one, the meal that strikes fear in the heart of every cook throughout the nation, the Traditional Christmas Dinner. In England we are led to believe that the Turkey is a tricky bird to cook and that it needs cooking for half the day for it to be edible, I'm blogging to set the record straight about Turkey and how it should be prepared and cooked, if you follow this recipe there is no way you can fail to impress your family and friends this festive season. I know that for most people Turkey is never eaten throughout the year, though it is the meat of choice for Christmas day, I have never understood why it is only cooked on Christmas day, we eat turkey a lot in our family, especially my Grandmothers turkey, I'm very lucky that my Grandmother cooks a mean turkey which is never dry, I have used her method for the cooking process but have created a way to guarantee that the bird has flavour throughout all of the flesh, not just on the skin.

In America they have  the cooking of a turkey down to a fine art, and what they never ever do it over cook the bird, there is no need to cook a turkey for as long as we all think. First of all start by using a great quality bird, free range always helps and if the turkey has a good layer of fat that will impart much needed flavour and moisture. I started with an 11 pound bird, which will feed 6 people happily, with plenty of left overs.

The Fundamentals of a Turkey:
  • Buy a good quality bird
  • Do not get the largest bird, go for a moderately sized bird
  • Do not remove the legs EVER!
  • Make sure you flavour the bird before the day of cooking
  • Try to think of the Turkey as a large chicken
  • Do not stuff your turkey
  • However long Delia says you should cook your Turkey for deduct an hour from the time
  • Leave the turkey to rest under foil for minimum half and hour, but 45 minutes is perfect
  • Cook your Turkey upside down on the breast, this is so the fat from the undercarriage will run down to the bottom of the breast meat and retain moisture.
2 days before Turkey time
I made a highly flavoured brine that will season the bird throughout and will ensure that the breast meat is moist. Here is how I did it:
The turkey in the brine

Step one the brine
You will need:
1 bottle of dry white wine
3 pints of water
100g of salt
100g sugar
1 tbsp of fennel seed
1 sliced fennel bulb
1 white onion
2 chopped carrots
3 sticks of celery
1 bunch of chopped tarragon
1 orange sliced in half and the juice squeezed into the brine
a bouquet garni of fresh mixed herbs, rosemary, bayleaf, thyme and parsley
2 tsp of whole peppercorns

Add all of the above ingredients into the largest pot or bucket you can find and allow the turkey to sit in the brine in a fridge for 48 hours.

The day of cooking
Step two The butter
Tarragon butter
The Turkey ready for the oven

You will need:
2 Garlic cloves (finely crushed using the salt as an abrasive)
2 tsp of salt
150g of unsalted butter
3 tsp of honey
2 tsp of dijon mustard
4 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon
the juice of half a lemon

In a pestle and mortar crush the Garlic until it is a fine paste and mix in the other ingredients until the butter is fully incorporated. Remove the turkey from the brine and dry the skin with kitchen paper, using your middle and index finger to separate the skin from the meat so that you have created a pocket for the flavoured butter to sit, try to go carefully so that you do not tear the skin. Place the butter under the skin and push the butter around the breast until the butter is distributed in an even layer.

first 15 mins

Use some of the vegetables from the brine and place them in a heavy duty roasting pan and then position the Turkey onto the trivit of vegetables breast side up to start with.
After being turned
Cook the turkey for half and hour at 190 degrees c, then turn the bird over onto the breast and cook for a further 1 hour and 45 minutes at a reduced heat of 170 degrees c. Remove from the oven and turn back over so the the breast is facing up and return to the oven for 15 minutes at 190 degrees c fo that the skin can brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 45 minutes whilst covered in foil. If you can make an incision where the leg and breast meets and the juices run clear it is perfect.

1 comment:

Alan said...

I've just cooked your Turkey recipe for my family this christmas eve and it was incredible. cannot begin to tell you how flavoursome it was. There are going to be some very moist turkey sandwich's over the next few days, Thanks again, Alan.