Simon Gault’s Christmas Day Turkey Cooking Guide

I hope these tips and recipes help you cook a spectacularly moist Christmas turkey. If you find them helpful, please share with your friends. 

Remember, when it comes to Christmas turkey, size does matter:

  • For 6 people: around 3-4 kg (6.6-8.8 lbs)
  • For 8 people: around 4-5.5 kg (8.8-12 lbs)
  • For 10 people: around 5-7 kg (11-15.4 lbs)
  • For 12 people: around 6-8 kg (13.2-17.6 lbs)

These sizes should comfortably feed each number of guests, especially if you have side dishes and are planning for some leftovers. 

Ensure you have a large enough roasting tray and oven space. Read about my experience with this in my autobiography, “No Half Measure.”

If You Have a Frozen Turkey:

In my experience, when thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, I follow the rule of about 24 hours for every 2 kilograms, or roughly 10 hours per pound. I prefer this method because it’s the safest, maintaining a consistent and safe temperature for the turkey.

Common Problem: Dry Turkey

Here are seven tips to keep your turkey moist:

1. Brining the Turkey: Submerge the turkey in a saltwater brine (refer to my special brine recipe below). This process enhances flavour and ensures the turkey retains moisture during cooking. Alternatively, you can visit Gault’s Deli to pick up our ready-made brine mix. Just add water to it, and then your turkey or chicken, for a hassle-free brining experience.

2. Cook at a Lower Temperature, Allows for even juice distribution.

3. Cover with Tinfoil: Remove halfway for a tanned skin.

4. Baste Regularly: Avoid overdoing it; baste every 30-45 minutes.

You can use:

5. Cook to the Right Temperature: Aim for an internal temperature of 64-66°C (147-150°F), taking into account carryover cooking, where the temperature continues to rise after the turkey is removed from the oven. While cooking to 74°C (165°F) is traditionally recommended for safety, many chefs, myself included, advise a slightly lower temperature for a juicier bird. The key to a moist turkey lies not only in the removal temperature but also in proper resting post-cooking. Need a temperature thermometer? 30% off use the code “showdown”.

6. Let the Turkey Rest: Rest the turkey for 30-40 minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute, enhancing its juiciness before carving.

7. Avoid Overstuffing: Leave space in the cavity for heat circulation.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.

2. Prepare the turkey (remove giblets, rinse, pat dry).

3. Optionally, tie the legs and place butter under the skin.

4. Season the turkey and place on a rack in a roasting tray.

5. Roast until internal temperature reaches 64-66°C; remove foil halfway through.

6. Rest the turkey for 30-40 minutes before carving.

Carving Tips:

Before cutting, take a moment to identify the direction of the muscle fibers or ‘grain’ of the meat. This is especially noticeable in the breast meat.

Slice the turkey breast against the grain for optimal tenderness. This means your knife should cross the muscle fibers, not run parallel to them.

Use a sharp carving knife for precision and ease. This is particularly important for the legs and thighs, where the meat can be more fibrous and tougher to cut through.

Ensure the turkey is securely placed on a cutting board. It may help to use kitchen towels or a carving board with grips to prevent slipping.

For the legs and thighs, locate the joint connecting them to the body and slice through it. Once separated, you can carve the meat off the thigh bones and slice the leg meat as desired.

Simon’s Cheesy Sage Turkey Stuffing Recipe:

(Serves 8)

– 1 medium onion, finely chopped

– 1 stalk celery, chopped

– 120g butter

– 12-14 slices bread, cubed

– 1 tsp ground black pepper

– 4 eggs, beaten

– 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

– 1 tsp salt

– 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage (or 2 tsp dried)

Method:

In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and celery, and sauté them until they are soft and translucent. 

Transfer the sautéed onion and celery to a large mixing bowl. To this, add the other stuffing ingredients — bread cubes, seasonings, beaten eggs, and grated parmesan. Mix Everything thoroughly to ensure the flavours are well distributed throughout the stuffing.

Now, you have two options:

If you prefer traditional stuffed turkey, fill the turkey’s cavity with the stuffing. Be careful not to overstuff; leave a bit of room for the stuffing to expand as it cooks.

Alternatively, you can bake the stuffing outside the turkey. Place it in a buttered baking dish and bake in a preheated oven at 175°C (350°F) for about 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Turkey Gravy Recipe:

(Serves 8)

– 2 cups Gault’s chicken stock

– 2 cups wine

– 2 tbsp tomato paste

– 1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce

– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

– 3 tbsp butter

– 3 tbsp flour

– Salt & pepper to taste

Optional Moroccan or Italian Gault’s Flavour shot

 Method:

In a saucepan, mix the chicken stock, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Dijon mustard. Begin to simmer the mixture over medium heat gently. At this stage, I often add a Moroccan or Italian Gault’s Flavour shot, depending on my mood and the desired flavour profile.

In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Continue to cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until it turns a light golden brown, forming a roux to thicken the gravy.

Gradually add the simmering stock and flavor shot mixture to the roux, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Increase the heat slightly to bring the gravy to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until it reaches the desired consistency, stirring occasionally.

Turkey/Chicken Brine Recipe:

– 1 cup salt

– ½ cup sugar

– 4 lt cold water

– Add herbs, spices, citrus peel, bay leaves, onion, garlic, peppercorns, and apple cider.

When brining turkeys, I follow this rule: about 2 hours per kilogram (about 1 hour per pound). Remember, it’s crucial not to over-brine to avoid overly salty meat. I always keep the turkey in the fridge while brining for safety. After brining, a quick rinse and pat dry helps get that perfect crispy skin when cooked.

Alternatively, for a hassle-free option, consider our Gault’s Deli prepared brine mix. Simply mix it with water and then immerse your turkey or chicken in it. This convenient mix takes the guesswork out of brining and infuses your poultry with a perfectly balanced blend of flavours.

Merry Christmas everyone, and happy cooking!

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