With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for the big one, the true meaning of the festive season; dinner. With the help of Steve Smith, Head Chef at the Michelin starred Bohemia, here are our 5 tips for cooking the IDEAL turkey on Christmas day.
INVEST IN A TURKEY
Don’t scrimp on the main event. Spending that little extra on an organic or free-range turkey is totally worth it. Not only is it ethically sourced – conscious relatively clear, then – it will also have better nutritional benefits and deliver on clarity and depth of flavour. If there’s one day where money seems no object, it’s Christmas. The bird, then, is a worthy investment.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Wash and thoroughly dry the cavity of the bird before leaving it to reach room temperature. This is essential, and a step not to be neglected. Next, putting a moderate amount of softened butter under the skin of the bird will ensure it remains moist. Finally, truss the legs together so it retains its shape throughout cooking. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have an absolute showstopper of a centrepiece.
Stuff the cavity of the turkey with herbs, citrus fruits and an onion to add flavour. However, it is important to ensure there is space for heat to circulate, so don’t stuff it in too tightly. To make the stuffing seasonal, add some festive favourites such as cranberries, chestnuts, sage and clementine zest; just be sure to balance them thoughtfully as they’re a highly perfumed, citrusy bunch!
For many, the meal hinges on the gravy. Don’t dispose of the caramelised juices left behind by the turkey as they make the perfect base for your sauce; there’s so much flavour lurking in that murky looking bottom of the pan. Adding Madeira, a tbsp of plain flour and quality stock to these, then reducing with fair vigour, will make your gravy rich and delicious.
Good news for those always in a flap when adding the finishing touches; the final half hour needn’t be concerned with the bird. Leave the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving to allow the meat to relax, making carving easier and the flesh juicier. Separating the breasts from the legs and thighs will make carving a lot more manageable as you can simply slice the breast meat, and the rest should fall off the bone.