HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT TURKEY
Posted on December 07 2023
When we’re not creating beautiful, handcrafted kitchenware, we at Katto are often concerning ourselves with the nature of our next meal.
At Christmas, this becomes even more important; a perfectly cooked turkey can be the difference between a blissful 4pm sofa slump and an afternoon of arguments. And with as many as 70% of you tucking into the nation’s favoured bird each year, it pays to have a good recipe up your sleeve.
We recently met with the team at one of our favourite London eateries, Quality Chop House, who just so happen to be experts on such matters. They shared their top tips on how to perfect the Christmas turkey once and for all.
Pip Sloan, Chef at Quality Chop House, shares her tips.
STEP 1. How to Choose A Turkey
When choosing your turkey, weight will likely be your most important consideration. Our table below recommends which turkey weight is best for different party sizes.
|Number of Guests
|Size of Turkey
|Large turkey leg or crown
Pip suggests a Bronze turkey for a richer taste - if The Quality Chop House Butchery (EC1R 3EA) is too far afield, Pip recommends M.Moen & Sons (SW4 0JA) or HG Walter (W14 9EB) for top quality poultry.
Aim to have your turkey ordered early to ensure you get the best pick of the bunch. Most butchers will accept orders from early November.
STEP 2. How to Prepare A Turkey
For maximum flavour and perfect juiciness, Pip recommends dry brining your turkey the night before cooking. She uses the following combination:
- 200g coarse sea salt
- 50g brown sugar
- 10 peppercorns
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds (toast ahead if possible)
- 4 thyme sprigs, stalks removed
- 1 bay leaf
- Zest of one orange
Place all of the above in a pestle and mortar and grind until consistently blended, then pack this over the turkey. Leave overnight in the fridge.
On the morning of cooking, remove your turkey from the fridge at least an hour before it goes into the oven, so that it can come up to room temperature.
Directly onto the remainder of the brine, spread softened butter over the skin of the turkey. This can be whipped with herbs such as thyme and rosemary for additional flavour.
Ensure you have removed any giblets from the cavity of the bird, then add aromatics such as thyme and rosemary, and lemon, inside the bird. You can also cook your stuffing in here if you prefer juicy over crispy.
Pip adds a dry brine the night before, and coats in a herbed butter before cooking.
STEP 3. How to Cook A Turkey
How long to cook a turkey will depend on its weight. Around 30 minutes per kilogram, plus an additional 30 minutes is a good place to start, at 190°C.
Pip recommends steaming your turkey for the first 45 minutes by adding water to the roasting tray, before turning the heat up for the remainder of the cook. This ensures super moist meat along with perfectly golden, crispy skin.
Your turkey is ready when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 65-70 °C. This should be the priority over cooking time alone, so be sure to check.
If your turkey looks like it is browning too fast, you can place a tin foil 'tent' over the whole bird to avoid burning whilst the bird cooks inside.
Leave your turkey to sit for at least 30 minutes after roasting. This allows the juices to distribute across the bird leading to really juicy meat.
|Approximate Cook Time (190°C)
STEP 4. How to Carve A Turkey
Once your turkey has sat resting for at least 30 minutes, you're ready to carve. Ensure you have a large, sharp knife and ideally a carving fork with long tines, to hold everything steady. Katto's Carving Kit contains the perfect tools for the job.
- Remove any string if your turkey is trussed.
- Slice through the skin that connects the breast with the leg (drumstick). Pull the leg outwards and cut through the joint to remove the entire leg. Do this on both sides.
- Separate the drumsticks from the thighs by cutting through the joint that connects the two. Drumsticks can be served whole or sliced.
- Carve the thigh meat by slicing parallel to the bone. This is a wonderful bit of darker meat - don't worry if it's a different colour to the breast meat.
- Carve the breast meat by cutting thin, even slices from the part of the breast closest to the wing. Continue until you reach the breastbone.
- Carve the wings by cutting through the joint where the wings attach to the body. They can be served whole or carved similarly to the drumsticks.