Tale of a turkey in 3 parts: Part 3 – Roasting

The final countdown and the most daunting. Actually putting the turkey in the oven and cooking it. Or roasting it, to be more precise.

We’ve already talked about drying out a turkey and about the dangers of poisoning your guests by not taking care of your turkey. Roasting a turkey brings these two dangers together. Too long in the oven and your bird will be like sand in your mouth. Too little, and there we have our friends salmonella and camphylobacter joining us at the table.

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Turkey, all wrapped in bacon

The best suggestion I can make here is to invest in a meat thermometer if you don’t already have one. The brining I’ve recommended earlier will help to keep the turkey moist, but the only way to ensure it’s properly cooked is by checking the internal temperature at the thickest point.

The recommended temperature for a cooked turkey is 72ºC-75ºC. I worked to the lower end of the scale, then covered the turkey in tinfoil, knowing it would continue to cook once out of the oven.

I didn’t use stuffing this year. I decided that the extra time it takes to roast the bird, and the increased risk of undercooking meant stuffing wasn’t worth it. When I was living in London, the Brits often cook their stuffing in a baking tin on the side, or rolled into balls and placed around the turkey. Which seems like a good idea. (Try Jamie Oliver, or Nigella Lawson for more stuffing ideas.)

Here’s what I did:

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Richard & Turkey & I xx
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Fill the turkey cavity with halved lemons and whatever herbs you can lay your hands on. I used parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. It won’t need seasoning if you’ve already brined it.
  3. Cover the outside of the turkey with overlapping strips of streaky bacon (I needed 800g). Don’t worry about securing them, they’ll stay put as they cook. This will help with moisture. If the bacon starts to get too dark during cooking, cover the turkey with tinfoil.
  4. Roast in the oven until the correct internal temperature is reached. The time needed will vary depending on the size of the turkey. Here’s a handy chart to help:
Weight Unstuffed Stuffed
3.0 – 3.5 kg 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 hours 3 – 3 1/4 hours
3.5 – 4.5 kg 2 3/4 – 3 hours 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 hours
4.5 – 5.5 kg 3 – 3 1/4 hours 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 hours
5.5 – 7.0 kg 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 hours 3 3/4 – 4 hours
7.0 – 9.0 kg 3 3/4 – 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 – 4 3/4 hours

These times should be used as an indication only, but are useful for planning how long it takes to get your turkey from raw to on the table.

Merry Christmas and good luck!! xx


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