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Top Tips for Cooking the Perfect Turkey

  • Choosing the right turkey. Those cheap huge turkeys may look good value but they are pumped full of water among many other things and will shrink significantly during cooking. Go for a slightly smaller and better quality bird as the meat will be of better quality and shrinkage will be less. Also, check it fits in your oven!
  • Always check the weight of your turkey as this can drastically affect the cooking time meaning you could have an underdone, perfectly moist or bone dry turkey. Don’t chance it! Check the weight and online you can find many turkey cooking calculators.
  • Never cook your turkey with the string on or so its tied up. It may look pretty but it comes at a cost of longer and uneven cooking times. When you first get your bird, remove the giblets, take off the strip and push your bird apart as much as it allows with damaging. This gives the heat room to circulate in the oven and cook down the legs quicker.
  • When prepping your turkey, get A LOT of butter. Depending on the flavours you are using with your bird add some of these to the butter. You want the butter softened but still hard enough to mould. Once you have your flavoured butter pop it under the skin of the turkey on top of the breasts. Make sure there is a nice thick layer as this will slowly melt during the cooking and keep basting the breasts and trickle down to the rest of the bird. This is important as the breast dries out while the legs are finishing cooking.
  • If you don’t have a roasting rack, set your turkey on top of chunky chopped root vegetables; this lifts your bird out of the juices, stopping it being soggy and there vegetable at the end of it that’s perfect for the stock or gravy.
  • When cooking your turkey if you have ultimate golden brown skin but you know the turkey is not nearly ready tinfoil the pan and cook further, allowing the turkey to continue cooking but not burn. 15 minutes before its done, whip the tin foil off and crisp that skin back up!
  • After the turkey is cooking make sure you give it time to rest. Resting is an important part of the process and allows the meat to reabsorb the juices.
Photo credit - Dianne Rosete