Notes on Roasting Turkey

I have provided various alternatives . My preferred option is the 9-hour version,. This may seem perverse to some, but it always produces a magnificently succulent and juicy result, and is as easy as pie once you’ve grasped the principle of bringing the bird to the critical temperature between 62-65C throughout. This keeps all the natural juices and flavours of the bird where they belong, inside it. As we won’t be eating until 6.30 or so, there’s no need to get up in the middle of the night to put it on. I wouldn’t anyway. I’d just put it in at 50C when I went to bed.

There are some who swear by brining, and others have even more arcane methods. To be honest, I can’t be bothered

Nine hour Roast Turkey

Let’s deal with the hard part first. You have to buy yourself a meat thermometer for this . And you have to invest in a good bird. Nothing can turn a broiler turkey into something fit for the plate. I use a 5-6kg (12-14lb) bird to feed 10, which is enough to feed everyone on the day, will leave cold to be useful on Boxing Day, and not too much to get boring thereafter. If you have to cook a larger bird, you may have to cook it for longer. But not to worry; the principle remains the same.

Set your oven to the lowest possible setting, to 75C/165F/Gas ¼ (or less) if possible. Place the turkey in the roasting pan on its side, one thigh upwards. Add a little water to the roasting pan, and place it at the bottom of the oven. After three hours turn it over, so that the other thigh is upper most. After three hours more turn it breast down.. (You rotate the body because the legs and thighs take longer to cook than the rest of the bird, so it needs more exposure to a higher heat. This is less of a consideration if you have a convection oven, in which the heat is more consistently spread).

I hour before you want to eat it, take it out of the oven. Turn up the oven to maximum heat At this stage the turkey will still look much as did when it went in, not very appetizing. So turn the turkey breast upwards in the classic position. Rub a little butter all over the skin and sprinkle with salt. Pop it back into the now hot oven and roast until ell tanned all over, basting from time to time. This should take 15-20 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the turkey rest until you want to eat it, for 30-40 minutes.

That’s all you have to do. Well, almost. You do have to take it’s temperature at various times, let’s say when you’re turning to over. Just keep in mind the idea is to bring bird’s internal temperature very slowly to 62-65C. It’s so seasy. There’s non need for those abstruse calculations of so many minutes at one temperature, and then so many minutes art another. No worry about over cooking or under cooking. No hovering, no worrying, no hassle. If you want Christmas dinner, put it in at midday or thereabouts. If it’s Christmas lunch you fancy, bung it just before you go to bed and check it when the kids come and bounce on your bed with their stockings.
If it goes a few degrees over 65C, don’t worry. If it doesn’t look as if its going to make 62 C just jack up the heat by 15 degrees or so. You may loose some of the juices along the way as the fibers tighten up, but it will still be a well succulent bird. Just keep monitoring the internal temperature. That’s the important part, because of you bring a piece of meat to 65C, and hold it there for 15 minutes, you will have killed off all the pathogens. It’s as well to put the thermometer probe into the breast at the thickest point, and the thigh, too, and also in that area where the thigh is tucked up close against the main body of the bird. As long as they’re all at 65C, you’re away, to do all the other bits and bobs

Conventional Turkey Roasting Guide

But if you feel safer doing it the traditional way, here’s a guide to keep anxiety and nerves at bay.

220C/425F/gas 7 for 30-45 minutes, depending on size.
Turn down oven to 170/C/325F/Gas 3 and

Allow 30-40 mins per kg

5.5-7kg 3 1/2 – 4 hours
7-9kg 4-5 hours
9-12 kg 5-6 hours


170C/325F/Gas 3

5.5-7kg around 4 hours
7-9kg around 5 hours
9-12kg around 6 hours

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