How to Roast a Turkey

Ready to roast
Ready to roast

So you’ve bought your turkey – hopefully a free range, hand raised bird from your local farm shop like mine which you know will have the best of flavours.  If so, you’ve probably just collected it a day or so before it’s needed.  If you’ve gone to the supermarket, your turkey is probably frozen.  Make sure it’s fully defrosted and at room temperature before you start this process.  Beware – it can take many hours to defrost your turkey! Undercooked turkey is not a good thing.  You can always use a meat thermometer to be sure, but taking a few careful steps will prevent a lot of unpleasantness.  Also consider that turkey can be a very dry meat.  A good quality bird is the first step to preventing this.  Carefully sealing in foil and regularly basting also helps.  Covering with a fatty bacon can ‘automate’ the basting process if you wish to go down this route, and allowing the meat to stand and relax after cooking all contribute to making this a moist roast Instructions are basic roasting instructions for a fresh 6.4kg/14lb turkey – that’s enough to feed maybe 12 people.  You can adjust the timings for a bigger/smaller bird, stuff the bird or season it to your personal tastes.  I’ve kept this one really simple

  • If refrigerated, bring the turkey out into the kitchen the night before it’s needed to bring it up to room temperature
  • Peel and halve 4 large onions and place in the bottom of a large baking tray
  • Unwrap your turkey and remove the giblets. Set aside to make the gravy
  • Remove any binding (mine is tied up with a large elastic band) and check the cavity.  Wipe the bird with a clean cloth if necessary
  • At this point you can stuff the bird or tie up with string if you wish – this is entirely optional
  • Place the bird on top of the onions, which will act as a trivet
  • Liberally pour olive oil over the bird and rub into the skin (you could use softened butter)
  • Rub a generous sprinkling of sea salt and black pepper into the oiled skin
  • Cover the tin with 2 generous strips of tin foil, one running front to back, the other left to right.  Seal each one.  The 2 strips should fully seal in the bird but leave some air for steam to circulate inside
  • Bake for 40 minutes in a hot preheated oven, 220oC
  • After 40 minutes, turn the oven down to 160oC Fan.  Remove the bird and baste with any juices.  Reseal the foil and return to the oven
  • Cook at this temperature for 3 ½ hours, removing to baste every hour or so
  • Remove from the oven and discard the foil. Turn the oven back up to 220oC.  Strain off all of the liquid into a jug and return the turkey to the oven for another 30-40 minutes to brown off
  • The turkey is fully cooked when the juices run clear from the thickest part of the bird – spike the thigh with a skewer to test.  If the juices are pink, return for another 10 minutes and repeat
  • Remove the turkey to a serving platter to rest for at least 30 minutes, longer if you can
  • Meanwhile, skim the fat off the meat juices and carefully discard.  Use the remaining juices to make the gravy
Ready to carve!

Overall, you’ll need to get a bird of this size into the oven more than 5 hours ahead of when you wish to serve it, so you must be prepared


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