How to cook a Christmas Turkey

how to cook a christmas turkey - grove smith turkey

How to cook a Christmas Turkey

It’s Christmas time here at Grove Smith Turkeys, which means we’re entering our busiest time of the year.  We love everything turkey, which is why we often get asked by friends, family, customers, and suppliers about how to cook the perfect Christmas turkey? 

We know that most people only seem to cook turkey once a year, and it is generally for a special occasion. So, no one wants to get it wrong. Your Christmas turkey shouldn’t be a nightmare and we’ve put together our foolproof guide of getting a tasty and juicy turkey that will wow all your guests. 

Why do we eat turkey at Christmas? 

For most households in Britain, Christmas means roast turkey and all the trimmings. The glorious bird is still popular with 10 million of them eaten at Christmas every year. But have you ever thought, why do we eat turkey at Christmas? 

In medieval times, it was traditional a boar’s head that was served for the Christmas feast. And throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the rich dined on swan or peacock. The first appeared on our Christmas tables in the 16th century, with the popular theory being that it was King Henry VIII who was the first Monarch to have turkey at Christmas

Thomas Tusser, a 16th-century farmer, noted that by 1573 turkeys were commonly served at English Christmas dinners. The tradition of turkey being served as the main focus of the Christmas meal spread throughout 17th century England. 

But who can forget that famous Christmas dinner scene in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where Scrooge sends Bob Cratchet a large turkey

 

How do I choose my turkey? 

There are so many options and varieties to choose from, but start with how many people you are going to feed on the day. A whole turkey works out as the best value, and you should have plenty of leftovers for cooking the stock or eating on Boxing Day. 

Choosing which size you need can be a tough decision – you don’t want a turkey that’s too big for your oven, or is too small to feed all your guests. 

Whether you’re ordering online, of visiting your local butcher, there are things that you need to take into account before you buy your Christmas centrepiece. 

Firstly, it is important to understand where you turkey has come from, and understand the different turkey categories. Here at Grove Smith, our English Rose turkeys are award-winning. They have been bred and raised to the highest welfare conditions. The free-range turkeys from Grove Smith have access to large open spaces. When the turkey is the main focus of your Christmas Day meal, you want it to taste the best it can and our free-range turkeys taste great (we’ve if we know we might be a little bias). 

Speak to your butcher, they will have the best advice for you in terms of what size you will need. But as a rule, we would suggest: 

  • 3kg serves 6 to 7.
  • 4kg serves 8 to 10. 
  • 5kg serves 10 to 12.
  • 6kg serves 12 to 14.
  • 7kg serves 14 to 16.
  • 8kg serves 16 to 18.
  • 9kg serves 18 to 20. 

What is the best way to cook my Christmas turkey? 

There are many turkey recipes out there, but this is the one we use to cook our Christmas turkey. We think it gives the best flavour. 

First, make sure you check your oven as they all run at different temperatures, and it isn’t necessarily the one that shows on the dial. 

Get your turkey out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temperature. Pat the skin dry, and place stuffing under the skin. Rub the turkey everywhere with Olive Oil, and season well with salt and pepper. 

Note down the weight of your turkey, and use this as a guide to calculate your optimum cooking time. Don’t forget to include resting time when you’re making your calculations. It needs to rest after cooking to make sure you get a lovely and moist turkey that is full of flavour. 

If you’ve added stuffing, weigh your turkey and calculate the cooking time. (it’s about 20 minutes per 500g/ 1lb 2oz). Cover with tin foil. And place in the oven. 

Heat your oven to 180 degrees/ 350 F/ Gas Mark 4 

  • 4-5kg cook 2 ¼ to 2 ½ hours. 
  • 5-6kg cook 2 ½ to 3 hours. 
  • 6-7kg cook 3  to 3 ½ hours.
  • 7-8kg cook 3 ½ to 4 hours. 
  • 8-9kg cook 4 to 4 ½ hours.
  • 9-10kg cook 4 ¼ to 4 ½ hours. 

 

Roast the turkey in a large enough roasting tin for the correct time until the juices run clear from the fattest part of the thigh when you pierce it with a skewer or knife. Remove the foil for the last 45minutes of cooking so you let your turkey brown. 

If you’re using a thermometer, check the internal temperature of the turkey – an excellent quality bird, should be cooked to 65 degrees. 

When the turkey is cooked, carefully lift from the roasting tray, and rest on a large board. Turkey’s that weigh between 4-6kg should be rested for 1 ½ hour and larger ones for up to 2 hours. 

Carve your turkey, and serve with all the trimmings and don’t forget the roast potatoes!

Tuck in and enjoy!