The Crazy Kitchen: The Perfect Christmas Turkey

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Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Perfect Christmas Turkey

Last year I attended a cooking masterclass hosted by the legendary chef Marco Pierre White and Lean on Turkey (Bernard Matthews). There was only around 6 of us there and we sat around an island watching the master at work, asking questions and picking up tips on how to cook with turkey.

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I was thrilled to be asked to attend another masterclass with the great man, this time at one of his restaurants within Stamford Bridge, the home if Chelsea Football Club. This time the masterclass was based around cooking the Christmas turkey, with Marco sharing some of his tips and tricks of the trade.

After a brief introduction and glass of wine we went into the kitchen to watch the preparation of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy, the essentials to a great Christmas dinner. Here are a few of the tips and advice I picked up along the way.

  • Marco advised getting a turkey crown or a whole turkey and cutting the wings, legs & carcass into small pieces to use for the gravy. If you don't fancy preparing the turkey yourself you could buy a crown and then ask the butcher for a carcass and offcuts or buy some drumsticks and wings.
  • Remove the wishbone for easier carving

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  • To stuff the crown he used Paxo stuffing (we were all a little surprised by that revelation) along with sausagemeat and softened onions. The stuffing mix was made up with a third less water than the instructions on the pack to allow for the extra juices from the bird.
  • Stuff the neck end of the bird and under the skin of the turkey thighs and brush well with melted butter and season lightly.

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  • Roast the turkey in a preheated 180 C oven. The crown will take around 1.5 hours and the thighs around 55 minutes (depending on the size) and it was suggested that a meat probe is used to check the temperature of the meat by inserting into the thickest part. Once the temperature reaches 66 C for the breast & 72 C for the thighs the turkey will be cooked to perfection and be lovely and juicy and not at all dry.
  • To carve the turkey crown firstly remove the stuffing and then slice the turkey with long strokes of a very sharp, good quality carving knife.
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To make the gravy

  • Add the chopped turkey carcass, legs & wings to a large roasting pan along with butter, onion & garlic and roast for around an hour to an hour and a half. 
  • Add water and some bouillon and bring to the boil & cook to release all the flavours.
  • Strain through a sieve to catch all the tasty juices. Allow to rest slightly and remove some of the fast that has come to the surface.
  • Add the juices to a saucepan and bring to the boil, thickening as required with a little cornflour mixed with water.
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Cranberry Sauce

  • Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make and so much nicer than store bought. My Mum always makes her own and Marco showed us how easy it is.
  • Use 500g fresh or frozen cranberries, 250g sugar, 100ml of Port and 100ml of orange juice. Bring to the boil and simmer until the juices have evaporated and you are left with a slightly watery jam consistency.
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Most of all be confident and don't be afraid of the turkey - a dry turkey is not the fault of the bird but due to being over cooked so if you invest in a meat probe it will result in a much tastier bird and no complaints on Christmas Day!

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You can find lots more turkey tips and info on the lean on turkey website.

My expenses were paid to enable me to attend the masterclass & I received a giftcard towards the cost of my turkey along with a meat probe

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