Posted 15th Dec 2016
Whether your turkey needs defrosting or you're cooking from frozen, this simple guide, courtesy of Donald Russell, should help
How to cook your Christmas Turkey from defrosted
Defrost your turkey slowly in the fridge, for 7-10 hours per 500g – about 72 hours. If you don’t have room in the fridge, you can use the polystyrene coolbox your turkey arrived in. Put a couple of ice packs in with it, and keep the lid on tight. Replace the ice packs twice a day.
Pat your bird dry with kitchen paper, and allow to come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This helps it to cook evenly. Weigh your bird to calculate the cooking time required.
1. Preheat your oven to 230ºC/Fan 220ºC/Gas 8. Place the turkey in a large roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add a cup of water or wine to the tin to keep the bird moist during cooking.
2. Cook the turkey in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.
3. Reduce the temperature to 180ºC/Fan 170ºC/Gas 4 and continue to cook for a further 15 -18 minutes per 450g (lb).
4. Baste occasionally and be careful not to overcook! Resting Once cooked, let the turkey rest before carving. Remove it from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for at least 30 minutes, to make it moist and tender all the way through. Keep any juices for the gravy.
Our Top Tip...
We recommend cooking your stuffing separately. A stuffed bird takes longer to cook, which can dry out your turkey. If you like, you can loosely pack the cavity of the bird with 2-3 peeled and halved onions and a bouquet garni for extra flavour.
How to cook your Christmas turkey from frozen
1. To cook this turkey from frozen, we recommend using a digital meat thermometer – you should be able to find one online.
2. Weigh your turkey to calculate your cooking time – it needs approximately 18 – 20 minutes per 450g (lb). We also suggest you sit it at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking – this makes it easier to unwrap. Once it’s cooked, rest it for 30 minutes to one hour, to make it even more juicy. Add all these times together and work backwards from when you want to serve up, to see when to switch your oven on.
3. When you’re ready to go, preheat the oven to 170°C/ Fan 160°C/Gas 4, and place an oven shelf in the bottom third. Remove your turkey from the freezer and sit in its packaging for 20 minutes at room temperature. Unwrap your turkey and place it on top of a roasting rack inside a roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 21/2 hours, trying not to open the oven door or let out too much heat. After this time the turkey should be starting to turn golden.
5. Carefully take your turkey out of the oven, closing the door to retain the heat, and do your first temperature check. Insert the temperature probe into the meatiest part of the breast, leaving it in place for at least 10 seconds to get an accurate reading. If it reads below 74°C (it almost certainly will at this stage), it needs further cooking.
6. Tilt the turkey to pour any cooking juices into the roasting tray, and add about three glasses of liquid to the tray – white wine, chicken stock or water, according to taste. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and return to the oven.
7. Repeat the temperature test after a further 45 minutes, and every 15 - 30 minutes after that – if it’s close to 74°C, check it sooner. Remember, all ovens vary! If the turkey is getting too brown, cover loosely with tinfoil. For the final temperature test, check a few places on the breast, including close to, but not touching, the bone. Also check the thickest part of the thigh.
8. When each point reaches 74°C, remove the turkey from the oven, tip out any more juices to make your gravy, cover the turkey loosely with tinfoil and leave to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes to an hour before carving. Use this time to complete your veg and gravy.
9. Pour yourself a glass of something tasty, serve up and enjoy!