Top Ten Turkey Tips This Christmas
Store Street Exchange has opened at Manchester’s DoubleTree by Hilton just in time for the festive season. Poultry is a speciality here (especially the rotisserie chicken) and Store Street’s Head Chef Stuart Fox has shared his top ten turkey tips for foolproof festive fowl and the perfect Christmas dinner.
1. Don’t forget to delegate - get the family involved and make it fun. I always get my children to prep the vegetables and peel the potatoes.
2. Always start early and get the bigger jobs out of the way first - like the stuffing! My family favourite has always been Apricot, Chestnut & Sage – I have shared my recipe below.
3. Always use fresh turkey, free range if you can, as you will get a much better result after cooking with meat that’s tender and full of flavour.
4. Where possible get it from a reputable butcher, as well as being better quality, they will help source the right size for you. Typically a 3.5kg bird will serve 7-8 guests.
5. I usually remove the legs from the turkey and then bone and roll them, something your butcher will be happy to do for you.
6. A 3.5kg fresh turkey will take around 2 hours 15 minutes to cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees centigrade. Always season well before roasting and make sure it doesn’t go into the oven straight from the fridge.
7. If you are cooking for smaller numbers and don’t need a large turkey I would suggest marinating overnight in a simple brine solution to keep it moist while roasting.
8. I rub softened butter under the skin and all over the turkey and then lay a few pieces of pancetta for extra flavour.
9. The best way to tell if your turkey is cooked is by using a digital cooking thermometer. When cooked, turkey thighs should read 80 degrees centigrade, breasts 75. Always double-check by sticking the probe in several different spots within the thigh or breast, to find the lowest reading. If returning to the oven, allow 10-15 minutes, then test again until the correct temperature is reached.
10. Without a thermometer, the classic way to test is to push a spoon under the turkey leg so that it pierces the skin (or use a skewer), and inspect the juices that collect in the spoon. The juices should be pale gold and clear; if there are traces of blood, return to the oven as above.
Apricot, Chestnut & Sage Stuffing (serves 6–8)
500g pork mince
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large Braeburn apple grated
6 dried apricots (about 50g) chopped
45g chestnuts, roughly chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Small bunch - fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
Olive oil, to drizzle
Large bunch of large sage leaves
2 fresh merguez or chorizo sausages
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Put the pork mince into a large bowl and season. Grate the apple into the bowl, avoiding the core. Add the apricots, chestnuts, lemon zest and chopped parsley, and mix well.
2. Lay a large sheet of foil on a surface and oil with a drizzle of olive oil. Arrange the sage leaves on the foil, overlapping them in two rows to form a large rectangle, the length of the two sausages placed end to end. Sprinkle with a little seasoning .
3. Spread half of the pork stuffing mixture in the middle, along the length of the sage leaves, then run your finger down the centre of the stuffing to create a hollow for the sausages. Lay the sausages in the hollow and cover with the remaining stuffing mixture.
4. Bring up the foil and envelop the stuffing, twisting the ends to seal. Holding both ends, roll the stuffing in the foil to make it tight so it stays moist when cooking. Refrigerate at this stage if making a day ahead.
5. Put the stuffing parcel into a baking dish and cook for about 40 minutes. To check if it is cooked, insert a skewer into the middle for 10 seconds – it should feel piping hot against your wrist. Leave to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing to serve.