Head Chef, Guy Owen shares his best Christmas Turkey recipe….
Personally for me, to get the best result from a roast turkey is to brine it for 48 hours, in a brine containing all of the flavours that we would associate with Christmas, these being orange, bay, cinnamon, clove etc.
This recipe is based on a turkey weighing 5kg (enough to feed around 10 people)
Firstly the brine:-
3 litres of tap water
300g table salt
5 bay leaves
4 oranges (zest and juice)
1 onion cut in half
Two heads of garlic in half
A few white peppercorns
A few coriander seeds
15-20 cloves (depending on how much you like the flavour)
2 cinnamon sticks
Take a large container (one that is wide enough and deep enough to take the whole turkey).
Mix all of the ingredients together and stir until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved.
Place your turkey in there and let it brine for 48 hours in the fridge. (If the turkey isn’t completely submerged in the brine, rotate the bird every 8-10 hours)
After the 48 hour period is up, remove the turkey, pat it completely dry using paper towels, and sprinkle a small amount of salt over the whole bird (make sure it is only a small amount as the brine would have natural seasoned the meat) Then leave the bird, uncovered, in the fridge for an hour (this will help dry the skin out a bit, leading to a delicious crispy, perfect skin)
Now for the cooking.
For a 5kg bird the cooking times are as follows:-
Oven temp – 180 degrees
Cooking time – 3hrs 15 mins
Basing allowance’s – 6 (this means a basting every 30 minutes roughly)
It is always recommended when cooking any roast, to not bake it directly on the metal of the baking tray, this is mainly due to the metal becoming so hot, that it will actually over cook or scald the part of the meat in contact with the metal tray. So slice a couple of carrots, or an onion or something, lay on the base of the tray, and lay the meat on top of this. This will not affect the cooking in anyway, and helps to deliver better flavour and a greater yield of all of those lovely roasting juice’s that’ll be used to make the gravy at the end.
Once the turkey is in the baking dish, lay a few pieces of streaky bacon over the top of the crown (the bacon becomes a natural baster in itself and protects the top of the turkey breast from over cooking quite so fast). Season with a little olive oil, and pepper, no more salt at this point. Then cover all of the turkey in some tin foil. Place into the oven and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes (remembering you will need to baste the turkey 3 times in this period). Turn the turkey around and bake for a further 1 hour and 30 minutes (remember to continue with the basting). This would have taken you to within 15 minutes of the required cooking time.
Now remove the turkey from the oven and turn the heat up to 240 degrees Celsius. Whilst waiting for the oven to heat up to the required temperature, continually continue to baste . Drain off any excess juices and reserve in a pan to make the gravy, then return the bird to the hot oven without the foil on it for fifteen minutes, to brown the skin all over.
Once the skin is all golden brown and crispy, remove from the oven and let the bird rest for at least 30 minutes (preferably 45 minutes). Carve and serve at the table – enjoy!
And his Top Tips for Brussel Sprouts….
I love Brussel sprouts in which ever form they come in, but a lot of people find them extremely boring, and only have them at the Christmas day table by way of tradition instead of actually enjoying them. A very quick and effective recipe below to brighten them up and offer something completely different than the usual more traditional ways.
2 banana shallots (very thinly sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 kg Brussel sprouts (very thinly sliced, some supermarkets have sprouts already shredded down like this)
1 large teaspoon of curry powder
2 tablespoons raisins
A good knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Add a little butter to a pan on a low-medium heat. Sweat the sliced shallots down first until tender, then add the garlic and continue to sweat down. Turn the heat up a little and add the sprouts. Cook until soft, then add the raisin, curry powder and butter. Cook out for around 5 minutes on a medium heat. Season and serve immediately.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.