Thursday, 13 December 2007

Delicious Christmas Turkey Recipe

UPDATE: Seems I have not allowed enough time for turkey cooking as we have a midday deadline for lunch, and have a larger turkey than I anticipated. Helpful Turkey cooking calculator - 21 Dec 2007

Having made this recipe last Christmas I am going to perfect it this Christmas. Last year, our oven was still new to us and I managed to burn part of the turkey during the initial hot blast ... so I will be more mindful this year. I don't like the gamey-ness of turkey but the spiced, flavourful brine/bath completely transformed the turkey into a succulent and moresome meat, that I was sorry when it finally finished.

I used a free-range turkey which does cost more than a regular one, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I will buy the turkey on Friday 21 December and put it straight into the brine the same day. I use an eski (thermos insulated plastic picnic bucket with fitted lid) and keep it outside in the shed. The turkey is completely immersed and I just have to be careful not to get a bird that is too big to fit into the eski!

As we are having an early lunch on Christmas day, I have to start early - which I don't mind in the least. For a midday dinner I shall get the turkey in and take it out of the brine about 7am Christmas morning and leave it draining and coming up to room temperature for about an hour. Just wash my hands and make the basting glaze which is butter melted with maple syrup.

At about 7.45am I'll put on the oven to warm up and at 8am I'll have the turkey in its baking pan and basted with the glaze. Into a hot oven - should be 220 C but I did that last year and it burned so I'll do it at 210 C - for about half an hour and then turn down to 180 C for about 3 hours. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for half an hour cosseted in foil to keep the heat whilst allowing the juices to go back into the meat. In the last hour, I'll have prepared and roasted winter vegetables and other trimmings.

Then about midday, just plate up and glory in the triumph. Pudding will be a self-serve selection of ice-creams with smalls bowls of sweets for toppings. Drink will be the annual Schloer and some wine. I don't mind that schedule as it leaves me free to enjoy the rest of the day... my feet are then well and truly up when yummy leftovers are on the menu.

Note: it can be difficult to get some of the spices so it is worth getting them in advance and, from ethnic shops as the price is so much better than the supermarkets. I also add more of this or that and am imprecise. For example a couple of oranges; or more cinnamon stick. I put all the brine ingredients into the eski and mix well before adding the turkey. This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe.


6kg turkey
6 or so litres water
125g table salt
3 tbsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp caraway seeds
4 cloves
2 tbsp allspice berries
4 star anise
2 tbsp white mustard seeds
200g caster sugar
2 onions, quartered
1 x 6cm piece of ginger, cut into 6 slices
1 orange, quartered
4 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp clear honey

Basting glaze
100g butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup


X said...

For me, and indeed all my family, the whole point of our turkey is to have something to cook the stuffing in! We have a family recipe which is the star of the meal. It does take a heck of a lot longer to roast though.

Josephine said...

This sounds absolutely lovely darling!! I can just hear the anticipation and happiness in that description :-) I'm sure you're going to have a lovely day.

We're doing venison this year, believe it or not! Never had it's coming down from Scotland. Think I need to approach it like beef.


Doris said...

Hi X :-)

Ah yes, I didn't mention stuffing! I think one would have to add 12 hours cooking time to have stuffing cooked as well! Your recipe sounds good - got a blog?

I have in the past, boned a huge chicken (it is an interesting skill!) and then stuffed it full with gorgeous stuffing so one ends up with solid meat. Fab to carve but does take so long to cook.

Hi Jo :-)

I'll be interested to know what you do with the venison and how it tastes. Can I suggest a smaller side roast of something neutral for the kids - in case the venison is just too strong a taste? Just a thought. I suppose one does treat it like beef - worth a bit of research. I'm nerdy like that and will research recipes. Do you know that Google now has a recipe search engine? - Or at least they did until recently - seems to have disappeared. Hmm.

alan said...

Christmas for us now is at my younger sons house. They get up in the morning and have "their Christmas" with just the 5 of them, then we arrive noonish and bring our gifts. Dinner usually is ham sandwiches and such, instead of the big "do" like Thanksgiving was last month. A few days later when things settle down I'll fix a turkey for Dottie and I just like I did after Thanksgiving...

Eski...there's one for my Scrabble dictionary!



Minerva said...

Got to be careful with that oven though - the temperature dips around Christmas...

I think Mr Doris might need to buy you a oven thermometer for the seasonal present!

As for turkeys, my first married Christmas cooking for hubbie's best friend and his mother. I put the turkey in and by mistake, I turned the oven onto clean instead...

We ate at 6pm and were so very drunk we didn't really notice...



Josephine said...

Oh yes...I need a meat thermometer too :-)

As for the kids eating a 'side roast'...well I think they'll be OK. They're a very cosmopolitan bunch, and eat pretty much everything (the little one even asked to go to the local Indian for her 9th birthday meal!)

Tales from the Vienna Woods said...

Hello there Doris!
Would love to brine a turkey- always host xmas dinner for my family- was all ready to do so last year, when my sister informed me her husband was on a low-sodium diet. Damn.
I rotisserie barbecued a ham at Thanksgiving- wildly successful- plan to do the same as an accompaniment to the xmas turkey as well.

Doris said...

Alan I so love the idea of ham sandwiches! I did wonder how the US manages Thanksgiving and then Xmas day .... I suppose many do have a big roast on both days but the thought of clean and delicious ham sarnies can not be surpassed [excellent ham that has been boiled and roasted... ;-) ]

I'm pretty sure that eski is a brand name and therefore not allowable in Scrabble! I was brought up in Oz and some words still creep in, after all no need for an eski on a regular basis in the UK so I've no idea what they are called here. For my post I actually image-googled to find a possible name for it!

Minerva Perhaps you are right about the thermometer. However, the oven temperature didn't dip last year! Is the dip because of the outside temperature or because everyone is putting a load on the electric and gas networks at that time?

I can see that clean mode is not helpful.... thank goodness water was not involved in the "clean cycle"!

Jo I know what you mean. We can have a chuckle about it afterwards if it turns out there is cosmopolitan and cosmopolitan! I'm sure though you will find a fab way to cook it and it is supreme. :-)

VW I can't help wondering if the controlled amount of salt in brining yourself (reduce the amount of salt even!) is less than in a ham? Ah, but I see you are doing the turkey as well so no need for me to consider it! Maybe things can be about turns and brine the turkey but do a low sodium roast/rottiserie of some sort? I'd love a rotisserie! Oh what fun :-)