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Seven tips for a succulent Christmas turkey

Think turkey is dry? Think again. Follow these tips for the perfect succulent bird this Christmas.

Christmas day is a stressful one with lots happening in the kitchen. To make sure your Christmas lunch, aka the turkey, is perfect, we’ve put together some tips to make sure the bird remains succulent and packed with flavour.

Sourcing the bird

Knowing where your food is coming from is important at all times of the year. Christmas day shouldn’t be any different. Try and source an organic, free range bird if possible.

Size matters

How big does the turkey really need to be? Calculate 450g per person (don’t forget there are plenty of bones in the turkey so this won’t translate into a 450g meal!). It will, however, leave plenty of meat for seconds and leftovers.

If you’re cooking for a large crowd, try cooking two small turkeys instead of one large one. A larger bird tends to cook unevenly. Stick to birds between four and six kilos for best results.

Brine

On the other side of the pond, the Americans brine almost all of their meat. This is a step we seem to miss out in Europe. During brining, the turkey absorbs extra moisture, which in turn helps it stay more moist and juicy both during and after cooking. Since the turkey absorbs salt along with the water, it also gets nicely seasoned from the inside out.

Dry brining is a better option than a traditional wet brine. When wet brined a turkey absorbs a lot of the water and thus the flavour is slightly reduced

Roasting pan

A good roasting pan is invaluable. Get one where your bird fits snugly. Ideally have a metal rack in the roasting pan so the bird does not sit at the bottom of the pan and burn at the bottom.

To stuff or not to stuff?

Stuffing placed in the cavity of the bird will increase cooking time and will likely result in the turkey meat drying out by the time the stuffing is cooked. The easiest way to enjoy succulent turkey meat AND stuffing is to cook the stuffing in a separate pan. If you really want to cook the stuffing with the turkey, gently lift the skin off the breast and put the stuffing between the skin and the meat, taking care not to puncture the skin.

When’s it ready?

Although you can get a pretty good estimate of how long the turkey should take to cook, to be sure you’re best off using a thermometer. The bird is done when a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the turkey breast reads 65°C.

If you get your turkey from a good butcher, they will give you a pretty good estimate of how long you need to cook your bird.

Let it rest

The bird’s done a good job in the oven. Give it time to rest before you carve. This will allow the juices to redistribute and make sure the meat remains moist. 30 minutes to 1 hour wrapped in foil should do the trick.

The recipe

Dry-brining allows for plenty of flavour without too much water being absorbed by the meat.

Get the recipe for perfect dry-brined turkey here.

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