If you are still wondering what’s the best turkey to buy, how to cook it and what to do with the leftovers, worry no more. Take Stock asked Lee Maycock, chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs, to talk turkey.
What’s the best turkey to buy?
Like most things in life you get what you pay for. There are 43 different turkey breeds however, the most common types are the standard white, bronze and Norfolk Black. The bronze and Norfolk Black are specialist breeds which are slow growing and have a coarser texture, and a richer, slightly gamey flavour, especially the dark meat. These will cost more than standard white turkeys but they are seen as superior quality. Christmas comes but once a year, so spend a little extra for an outdoor reared, free range, possibly organic bird. Support your local farm shop or farmer’s market or speak with your friendly local butcher now to discuss your options.
How do you prep a turkey ready for cooking?
Never wash a turkey! This will only spread bacteria around the kitchen and may contaminate other dishes. Instead, just remove it from the packaging and allow it to breathe in the fridge. Remove an hour before cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature before roasting.
Tips for cooking it?
Rub rapeseed or sunflower oil into the skin and season well. Rub butter under the skin and add a flavour like sage, lemon thyme, or fresh orange as that works really well. Do not cover when cooking otherwise the skin will not crisp up. The most important element of cooking is the resting time when the turkey should be placed somewhere warm. Keep it uncovered. Covering the turkey will steam it and soften the crispy skin. Remember the core temperature will continue to cook the bird once it’s out the oven so do not overcook it.
When should you cook it?
Cooking on the day will create a far superior end result. Turkey’s don’t actually take a long time to cook – the turkey is the easiest part. It’s the trimmings that require prep so I’d do all of that the day before! Like all birds the breast will cook quicker than the legs. The legs are working muscles so will need a little longer, you could remove the legs before roasting, still roast together but remove the breast from the oven before the legs to achieve that perfectly cooked turkey.
How long can you keep cooked turkey for?
As long as it’s kept refrigerated, then three days is fine. If you want to freeze it then remove the carcass and freeze that separately. If you freeze it in stock or gravy the meat will remain moist and succulent. Just remember if you reheat frozen turkey it must be to over 75 degrees.
Tips to tackle leftover turkey
• A fresh turkey salad with juicy pomegranate seeds.
• Asian salad with fresh clementine slices and a honey and soy dressing.
• Pair with some Moroccan flavours like aubergine and spicy harissa.
A new take on the turkey sandwich by Michelin Star chef Steve Smith, Bohemia restaurant, Jersey, Turkey, Cream Cheese, Apple & Celery, Pecan & Mizuna Sandwich – click here for the recipe.