It’s time to talk turkey this Christmas
IN THE weeks leading up to Christmas, a faint but perceptible tremor seems to rumble through our neighbourhoods.
But you don’t need to call the seismologists, it’s simply the collective foot-tapping anxiety of a million Australians about to roast their first turkey.
So, I’m here to help. Perfecting a giant baked bird is actually much easier than you might imagine, you just need to follow a few essential tips.
For starters, if you’re buying a frozen turkey (which is a totally fine way to get one) make sure you buy your bird at least three days ahead. The reason is, it must defrost slowly if you don’t want it to dry out by dropping a bunch of its natural juices. That means in the fridge for a couple of days.
Secondly, make sure you’re buying a turkey that meets your actual needs. So many keen cooks purchase a bird far larger than they need because, well, it looks cool? For most families a size 30-40 (3kg-4kg) is fine. Also, if you are doing a giant size 50 or above, keep in mind that it may mean there’s no room in the oven for your precious sides.
Always make your stuffing the night before. That way the breadcrumbs really get time to soak up juices and develop flavour.
If you’re going to invest in a $70 turkey, then a $9 meat thermometer should be a no-brainer. Getting turkey right is all about temperature, not time.
When inserted into the thickest part of the thigh the meat should read 73C. And no higher. When you remove the turkey from the oven it will continue to climb to about 76C due to its thermal mass.
Lastly, carving doesn’t have to be hard. Start by removing the thighs and drumsticks, then prise off the breasts with fingers (it’s really quite simple) and carve them on the board. Oh, and try to enjoy yourself, after all, it’s Christmas! Ingredients Size 35 turkey (3.5kg)
2 tsp celery salt
Sea salt flakes and freshly-ground white pepper 4 cups multigrain breadcrumbs 1 cup desiccated coconut Finely grated zest and juice of 6 limes 6 cloves garlic, minced 6cm piece ginger, minced 1 tsp ground cardamom 125g unsalted butter, melted 200ml coconut cream
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 200C. Pat the turkey dry inside and out with kitchen paper. Season with celery salt and pepper.
2. Combine the breadcrumbs, desiccated coconut, zest, garlic, ginger and cardamom in a bowl and mix well. Add the juice, butter and coconut cream, then stir well. The mixture should just hold together, if not, add a splash of water. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Press the stuffing into the turkey, then secure the cavity opening with a skewer. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, rub with extra-virgin olive oil, then bake for 1 hour.
Cover with foil and bake for a further 1 ½ hours.
Remove the foil and bake for a final 20 minutes. Test the turkey temperature at the thickest part of the thigh. When the meat thermometer reads 73C, set aside to rest for 20 minutes, then carve and serve.
TROPICAL CHRISTMAS TURKEY WITH COCONUT AND LIME serves / 10 ‘‘ IF YOU’RE BUYING A FROZEN TURKEY MAKE SURE YOU BUY YOUR BIRD AT LEAST THREE DAYS AHEAD.