Thinking about hosting your own dinner at Christmas? Or perhaps you want to prepare the perfect turkey at some other time in the year. No matter what time of year it is, turkey can be a great treat and a good centerpiece for a dinner. But how do you cook it properly?
You might have cooked turkey many times before but still aren’t sure about the consistency. You can’t seem to get it just right every time. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not so good. You don’t really want to take those risks and leave things up to chance if you’re having Christmas dinner. So knowing how to cook a turkey is important. In this article, we’re going to look at how. So you’ve found the right place if you want to know how to get great turkey every time.
Cooking a turkey isn’t that complicated, but there are a few important things to remember so that you can get it right every time. The quality of the turkey is obviously important, but so are a number of other things that you need to remember. So what are they? Let’s have a look at how to cook a turkey.
How to find the best quality turkey
A lot of the difference when looking at the finished product will be down to the actual quality of the turkey in the first place. No matter how well you cook it, you can’t make up for a poor quality turkey, so make sure you spend the right amount and source it from the right place.
While supermarkets do sell good quality turkeys these days, you might want to try a farm near you. Local is best, anyway. Not only will they be fresher, you can check the quality of the farm and also make sure you’re helping a local business. Make sure your turkey is grass-fed and free-range as well as organic. Make sure it has had plenty of space and the right care. There’s normally more choice around turkeys when it comes to Christmas as that’s when most farms are geared up to produce for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good one at other times of the year.
How to cook a turkey
Once you’ve found the best turkey, you might want to start thinking about cooking it. But before that, you need to know a bit more about storage. Storing a turkey isn’t always simple, especially if it’s frozen. You need to know a bit more about freezing and defrosting it.
Picking up a fresh turkey a day or so before you need it works best, but sometimes this can be difficult at Christmas. In that case, you might need to buy a frozen one, or you may buy one fresh and freeze it up to a few weeks in advance. Remember to freeze the turkey as soon as you get it home if that’s what you intend to do.
If you buy or have a frozen turkey, allow enough time for it to fully defrost before cooking. Defrosting in the fridge should take around 8 to 12 hours per kilogram of weight that the turkey has. Make sure your fridge is below 4 degrees centigrade as well. It’ll only take 3-4 hours if defrosting at room temperature, but you must make sure the temperature of your room is below 17.5 degrees. This is important, and most rooms are much warmer than this, so defrosting in the fridge might be a better idea.
Before cooking your turkey, you need to prepare it. To prepare a turkey, unwrap it thoroughly and then put it on a deep tray that’ll catch any blood or other turkey juices. Then you can cover the turkey loosely with foil and let it defrost if necessary.
When your turkey is fully defrosted, you need to remove the giblets. Pat the turkey dry with a kitchen paper to remove any water from the defrosting. Check there aren’t any small bits of ice, this will mean the turkey hasn’t defrosted fully yet and you’ll need to wait. You need to make sure the turkey is at room temp before it goes in the oven, so put it in the room for a bit if you’ve defrosted it in the oven. Make sure it stays cool enough and is not left in a warm room for any period of time. Always be careful with things like this as food hygiene is important especially with poultry. Do further research if you’re ever unsure about the safety of your food.
You can also remove some of the bones at this point to make it easier to carve when it’s cooked, but this isn’t crucial.
Smear some butter on the turkey to moisten it up and add flavour. Put the turkey in a roasting tin breast side up. Roast for 40 minutes (pre-heated oven) per kilo of weight up to the first 4kg then another 45 minutes for every additional kg. Another way to do this is by using a meat thermometer, and checking that the turkey is at least 65-70 degrees C. A 5kg turkey should therefore be in the oven for between 3.5 and 4 hours. After this, you can take the turkey out of the oven and it will continue to cook a bit. Rest the turkey for about 45 minutes, this is an important step so that the juices properly absorb.
Check that the turkey is hot throughout and fully cooked all the way through. Meat thermometers aren’t expensive, and are important for this. You can check again after resting to make sure the turkey has cooked through. To get an accurate time to cook your turkey, make sure you weight the turkey AFTER it has been stuffed, not before. Enjoy!