Turkey Top Tips
I’m taking a few minutes from the madness of December to share a few top tips to help your Christmas day turkey be the best ever. Gone are the days of getting up around 3am to put the turkey in the oven for hours on end! I remember mum worrying if it didn’t have about 10 hours it wouldn’t be cooked!
Our approach now is to use the old traditional brining technique which will leave the turkey succulent and tasty. I’m all in favour of just using the breast, brining for 24 hours in water with salt, sugar, garlic and herbs. At the Tickled Trout we then cook in a water bath for a few hours with the breast in a sealed bag infused with butter, thyme and garlic. We then finish off in the oven basting from time to time with its own juices to crispen up the skin. Most of us don’t have a water bath at home but a simple large pan such as a Jam pan work perfectly. Just make sure that the water doesn’t go below 75 degrees centigrade but also does not boil. If you are a fan of the whole turkey and fight for the brown meat in your family then brining works perfectly well for a whole turkey. Use a brine made up of 500g salt 250g sugar per 10 litres of water, adding a bulb of garlic (all cloves crushed) rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, coriander seeds, star anise, peppercorns and an orange if you want to make it more Christmassy. A few years ago at home Rachel used a large garden weeding bucket (new of course) and left it overnight in the cold garage. For a whole turkey make sure you push your hand under the skin with butter and chopped thyme, and here comes a top tip …. Cook it upside down for 90% of the cooking time wrapped with the shiny side of the foil on the bird. The breast then sits in all the juices- simple but effective. Then take off the foil, turn it over and baste the skin generously every 15 minutes until the skin gets golden brown. Most importantly check the temperature in the turkey itself; seriously buy a thermometer if you haven’t got one, it really is one of the most useful gadgets you can have in a kitchen. Once the turkey is at 75° in the centre by the bone, it’s cooked. Wrap it up and let it rest, this is really important also. Remember, to carve hot meat is impossible, it should be served warm not hot. All the juices that come out of the birds whilst resting can be put into your gravy!
To carve, think of the turkey as a box and carve down, not at an angle.
Christmas is a busy time for chefs, but it’s great to develop a special menu and to host some amazing parties in our private dining room. This year we have some delicious new festive treats on our menu but of course back by popular demand is our Christmas dinner pie and Christmas pizza! It makes me smile how many times in November we get asked ‘you are doing your Christmas pie and pizza aren’t you?’ The menu is on until the end of December so I really hope that we can welcome you and share some festive spirits with you. For me, I get a rest on Christmas day, whilst my ‘mother in law’ cooks the dinner. I’m on strict instructions to have a rest and let someone else cook…. Impossible I’m afraid, I will be there supervising and ensuring my brussels aren’t over cooked!
Have a wonderful Christmas day and enjoy your turkey!