If you feel uncertain about how to roast a turkey, you’re not alone. For many, Christmas Dinner is the big meal of the year, and it’s no surprise that even the most competent of cooks can feel overwhelmed at the thought of pulling off the kind of Christmas feast only ever seen on the TV!
Whilst planning is paramount, and certain hacks can help you along, one thing that everybody wants to get right is the turkey. Furthermore, people fret that they won’t cook it for long enough, or that they cook it for so long that it ends up dry. By following these steps, not only will you know how to roast a turkey but you will produce a Christmas turkey that everyone will love.
Apart from basic kitchen utensils such as a chopping board and some knives, you will need a roasting tin that is big enough to accommodate the bird and some veg. In addition, we recommend you use a meat thermometer.
- 5-6kg turkey plus neck and giblets (liver discarded)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 250g stuffing
- Handful of fresh thyme, leave removed from stems, and stems reserved
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 halved lemon
- 1 juiced lemon, skin reserved (If you are following our recipe on how to make chestnut stuffing, take the zest from this lemon and set aside.)
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3 thickly sliced onions
- 2 roughly chopped carrots
- 300ml white wine
- 55g soft butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 hours before cooking, remove giblets and keep. Carefully loosen the skin over the turkey breast enough to get your hands underneath. Season the bird all over, including under the skin, with two tbsp salt. Place the bird into a roasting tin, breast-side up, then leave uncovered in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
- One hour before you begin cooking, take the turkey from the fridge and preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan.
- Lift up the skin that covers the neck opening, and push the stuffing up and under the skin, securing tightly underneath with a skewer or a few cocktail sticks. Weigh stuffed turkey, then calculate cooking time, allowing 40 mins per kilo. Fill the cavity with a few pieces of onion, lemon halves, lemon skin from juiced lemon, thyme stems and two bay leaves. Tie the legs together with string.
- Scatter the remaining onion slices, chopped carrots and half the thyme leaves over the bottom of the roasting tin to make a trivet. Add the giblets minus the liver, and sit the turkey on top.
- Add white wine to the roasting tin and cover with foil.
- Cook according to the time you calculated, checking every 45 minutes to ensure that the tray has not gone dry. If it has, add half a cup of hot water.
- Chop the remaining thyme leaves and mix them in a bowl, with the butter, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Thirty minutes before the end of the cooking time, take the bird from the over and remove the foil.
- Spread the butter mixture all over the bird and return to the oven uncovered for about 30 more minutes.
- After 30 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check whether the bird is cooked. The temperature at the thickest part of the breast should read around 65 degrees centigrade, and the thickest part of the thigh should be 75 degrees centigrade. If the temperature is any lower, return the turkey to the oven and check at 15 minute intervals until the correct temperature is reached.
- When done, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then turn over and leave upside down for at least a further 20 minutes. This will allow the meat time to relax and become more succulent, giving you plenty of time to put on the vegetables and make the gravy. During this resting period, it is best to leave the bird uncovered so that the skin stays crisp.
Traymoor at Christmas
To make things easier and more economical, we have put together a range of Christmas meat hampers. If you are considering buying several items, consider one of these packs and cut costs.
We deliver our restaurant-quality produce to homes in Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and London (North & East).
If you’ve enjoyed our article on how to roast a turkey, then take a look at our blog page for more meat related snippets.