Christmas Day is the biggest day of the year for eating turkey, but many cooks are left stressed in the kitchen, worried their turkey will be dry and tasteless.
Cooking turkey meat can be tricky, with the risk of a badly cooked bird causing disappointment at the table.
Luckily, those tasked with the job of cooking this succulent meat on the big day can follow Jamie Oliver’s recipe, which he claims is “the best in the world”.
He noted that there are certain ingredients households should use when cooking a turkey to “pack the meat with a lovely, fragrant flavour”.
This recipe claims to be “not too tricky”, can serve 10 people and cooks in four hours and 55 minutes.
6.5 to 8kg turkey
Two to four clementines
A few sprigs of fresh herbs
One sprig of rosemary
Two to three carrots
Three onions, peeled
Two celery sticks
Jamie claims that the “perfect” sized turkey is 6.5kg to 8kg in weight because it feeds a good amount of people and has better flavour than bigger birds.
The celebrity chef noted that he likes to use flavoured butter, which can be made the day before, as it makes the turkey “look beautiful, gives a delicate sweetness and holds the skin away from the meat so it gets extra crispy” as it cooks.
1. The first step is to coat the turkey in the butter. Get the turkey and use a spoon to work your way between the skin and the meat. Start at the side of the cavity just above the leg and work gently up towards the breastbone and towards the back so you create a large cavity.
Pick up half of your butter and push it into the cavity you’ve created. Use your hands to push it through the skin right to the back so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible.
Do the same on the other side then rub any leftover butter all over the outside of the bird to use it up. If you’ve got any herb stalks left over, put them in the cavity of the turkey for added flavour as it cooks. Cover the turkey in cling film and keep in the fridge until you need it.
2. Take the turkey out of the fridge a few hours before you are ready to put it in the oven so it has time to come up to room temperature. To finish the turkey off, halve the clementines and pop them in the cavity with a few more sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, bay and thyme.
The fruit will steam and flavour the birds in a really lovely way. Take the fresh rosemary, pull off the leaves at the bottom then spear that through the loose skin around the cavity to hold it together and keep it from shrinking back as the turkey cooks.
3. Open up the neck cavity and pack as much stuffing as possible in there, then carefully pull the skin back over the cavity, tuck it under the bird and pop it in the roasting tray. If you’ve already made your gravy you won’t need a vegetable trivet, if not, do that now by roughly chopping the carrots, onions and celery sticks. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature, get the turkey in the roasting tray and cover with foil. As soon as it goes in the oven, immediately turn the heat down to 180ºC/350ºF/gas four.
4. As a rough guide, cook the turkey for about 35 to 40 minutes per kilogram, so a 7kg turkey will need about four to four and a half hours in the oven. Check on the turkey every 30 minutes or so and keep it from drying out by basting it with the lovely juices from the bottom of the pan.
After three and a half hours, remove the foil “so the skin gets golden and crispy”. If you are at all worried just stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. When the internal temperature has reached 65ºC for a good quality bird, and about 82ºC for a cheaper bird, it’s ready to come out.
5. When you think the turkey is done, carefully put a metal skewer in the cavity and use it to lift the bird and angle it over the roasting tray so all of the juices from the cavity run out. Move the turkey to a platter then cover it with a double layer of tinfoil and two tea towels to keep it warm while it rests for at least one hour, preferably two hours for bigger birds.