Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Perfect Christmas Dinner

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Perfect Christmas Dinner

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Heathcote

Cookery is all about passing down skills and recipes, whether it is a chef to a junior chef, a recipe that someone has read and interpreted or mother to daughter (mother to son even and occasionally father).

This is probably one of the reasons for so many placing a turkey in the oven before going to bed on Christmas Eve.

Of course, these enormous birds take time to cook. The domestic oven is often not much larger than the turkey and it is understandable why this has been done.

However, here is a tip to reduce that cooking time by half, take the pain out of the preparation and ensure you have juicy breast from the bird without ending up with dry meat that has to be hacked at.

First, the most difficult part of cooking a turkey is to make sure the heat transfers into the densest part of the bird. This is where the joints of the legs are, and by the time the heat has got through to this point, the breast is already overcooked.

By removing the legs you immediately avoid this, cutting down the cooking time by half as the bird is now half the volume. The legs can be roasted in the tray at the side of the double crown of turkey breast.

In addition, you can ask the butcher to do this work for you. Smile nicely and ask him to remove the thighbones from the legs and tie the turkey up for you. This will assist with carving the dark meat. Also, ask him to reserve the bones and a little bit of the carcase when trimming it from which you can make your turkey stock and gravy. This can be made two hours earlier as you don't need to wait for the turkey to cook. Just add the juices to the gravy.

For those of you who like tradition and don't want to bake stuffing in a casserole dish there are two options. You can still stuff the crown of turkey, or alternatively you can put it into the thighs and retie them.

An additional tip for roasting: make a pouch underneath the skin of the breast and push a good lump of butter in with your fingers. …

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