The MasterChef star’s tips for cooking the perfect Christmas turkey
Written by Sarah Rankin
A turkey is by no means essential at Christmas, and in fact if you’re a fan of the holiday season, you’ll know that it’s not all that traditional. The mention of two roosters in A Christmas Carol cemented them as the prized meat for December 25, but previously geese and chickens were more popular.
They are not indigenous to the UK but have been found here for several hundred years. Henry VIII – perhaps our most famous glutton – regularly dined on it.
I once encountered a wild beast while jogging in California and was completely terrified by the size and size of the beast. It was huge, very ugly and very bad. This bothered me a little, and I’ll admit, turkey isn’t always on our table during the holiday season.
However, if you intend to decorate your table with a turkey, you will need to keep in mind some basic tips to ensure that you get the best results from your bird.
Dry Türkiye. There’s no getting away from it. Therefore, you will need to try to maintain as much moisture as possible before cooking to ensure they stay tender. Filtering is the ideal way to do this.
I use a cold box in my garage and fill it with a 7 percent salt solution. So, for every liter of cold water, add 70 grams of salt. Table salt is good. Add any scents you prefer. I use mustard seeds, whole black pepper, thyme, sage, and rosemary.
Leave the bird—untied so the brine can do its magic—in there overnight. Place a few ice packs in the bottom if the temperature is unusually warm and make sure the cooler has a tight-fitting lid. Take it out and let it dry for an hour or two before putting it in the oven. It must be at room temperature before cooking.
Mix chopped herbs such as parsley, chives and rosemary with some softened butter and spread it under the skin of the breast. Your hands are the only tool for this job. Be gentle to keep the skin safe. Sprinkle some sea salt on the skin for maximum crunch. Wash your hands well afterward.
Cook the bird over an array of thick lemon, orange, and onion slices. This allows air to circulate underneath and also creates a little steam from the liquid content of the fruit.
Place a whole, pierced lemon and orange in the cavity before cooking, again this will create a little steam to help keep the meat moist. Cover the pan several times during cooking, but be quick so the oven temperature does not drop.
Ignore the timing on the package. Preheat the oven to 180°C, buy a good quality meat thermometer and when the internal temperature reaches 74°C between the leg and breast, it is done. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with a lid of aluminum foil. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. This is essential to allow the meat fibers to relax and results in a juicy bird.
Follow these tips and you’ll end up with a moist, juicy bird that’s full of flavor. Good luck and Merry Christmas!
Sarah Rankin is a MasterChef finalist, food writer, cookbook author, private dining chef, food event host, and lover of all things local. Check out her content @sarahrankincooks
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