12 tips to cooking the perfect Christmas turkey



Don’t end up with a dried out bird on Christmas Day.  Here’s 12 tips to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection.

• When processing a bird, Christchurch turkey farmers Croziers recommends tucking the legs of the turkey in close so the drumsticks stay moister during cooking.

• Don’t truss the legs tightly with string or you can have areas of uncooked thigh meat, or you can overcook the breast meat if you keep it in the oven too long trying to cook it – if you use string, keep it loose.

• The more quickly you can freeze (or preferably snap freeze) a fresh carcase, the more moisture you keep in the meat.

• When thawing a frozen turkey, allow:
• 8-12 hours per kilo if in the fridge (4˚C)
• 3-4 hours per kilo in a cool room (17.5˚C)
• 2 hours per kilo at room temperature (20˚C)

• Once thawed and in the fridge, a raw turkey roast will keep for two days.

• When roasting, for a bird under 4kg allow 20 minutes per kg + 70 minutes. If the bird is over 4kg allow 20 minutes per kg + 90 minutes.

• To get a lovely brown skin, brush the bird with olive oil before cooking.

• Use a large roasting pan but try not to use one with high sides or it can be difficult to baste and the lower part of the bird won’t brown up.

• Some cooks flip their turkey, starting off with the bird upside down (lying on its breast) before turning it over after an hour – this supposedly helps to keep the breast meat moist.

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• If that sounds too difficult, place a bit of water in the bottom of the roasting dish, place tinfoil over the breast, cook at 120˚C for four hours, then remove the foil with 30 minutes to go so the skin goes brown.

• If you want stuffing, it’s going to add to your cooking time if you actually stuff it inside the bird and it will tend to cook unevenly. Pack it in loosely so there’s room for expansion. Another option is to cook stuffing separately in a roasting tray – the bonus is that the top will go crispy.

• Leave the turkey to stand for at least 15-20 minutes before carving.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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