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Your Guide to the Perfect Christmas Turkey From Head Chef Alex Nahke of The Europe Hotel & Resort

“First things first, you need to decide what size turkey to buy. The below guide gives you an idea based on numbers”, head chef Alex Nahke explains.

  • 2-2.5kg serves 4-6
  • 3kg serves 6-7
  • 3.5kg serves 7-8
  • 4-4.5kg serves 8-10
  • 5-5.5kg serves 10-12
  • 6-6.5kg serves 12-15

Some important things to consider before you get started.

  1. Make sure your turkey is going to fit into your oven
  2. You’re going to need a roasting tin that’s big enough for the bird with room to spare, and deep enough to catch all the fat and cooking juices.
  3. Make a note of the weight of your bird, knowing the exact weight will ensure the cooking time is correct, and thus avoid an overcooked and dry bird, or an undercooked one.
  4. Get your timings right. And don’t forget to leave time for your turkey to rest when it comes out of the oven. Turkeys between 4-6kg should be rested for 11⁄2 hours, and ones from 6-10kg can rest for two hours. 
  5. Get your turkey out of the fridge at least 30 minutes to 1 h before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven.
  6. Always preheat your oven before cooking your turkey.
  7. Place a trivet of Root Vegetables, like parsnip, carrots and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make a gravy with all the juices.
  8. Slightly season the Turkey Sea Salt & Black Pepper, cover the turkey loosely with foil, but remove it just under an hour before the timing is up to get the turkey nicely browned.
  9. Roast your bird for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. The safest way is to buy a temperate probe and use it to penetrate the thigh – if it has a temperature of 70C for 2 min that is perfect and safe.
  10. Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Cover loosely with foil for at least an hour while you get on cooking your roast potatoes.

Cooking Temperature and Timing Guide

Heat your oven to 180°C/gas 4

  • 4-5kg – cook 21⁄4 to 21⁄2 hours
  • 5-6kg – cook 21⁄2 to 3 hours
  • 6-7kg – cook 3 hours to 31⁄2 hours
  • 7-8kg – cook 31⁄2 to 4 hours
  • 8-9kg – cook 4 to 41⁄4 hours
  • 9-10kg – cook 41⁄4 to 41⁄2 hours
  • Or 20 minutes per lbs +20 minutes safety – this is a rough guide

Chef’s tips:

  1. No need to wash a turkey before roasting! You spread bacteria around your kitchen sink, which is a common mistake people make.
  2. The safest way of cooking the stuffing is NOT stuffing the turkey with it. Turkey can contain high levels of bacteria. In order to kill all bacteria you need to reach a core temperature of 75C instantaneously or equivalent, e.g. 70°C for two minutes in the stuffing, so you have your Turkey completely overcooked by the time this temperature is reached in the stuffing.
  3. Use some of the cooked turkey juices for your stuffing to add the necessary flavour
  4. If you get your butcher to take of the legs for you and bone & roll them, then you are left with the crown and that might fit better in the oven! It also cooks faster and you will have a cleaner way of serving the turkey. 
  5. The boned & rolled legs you can cook like your normal Sunday roast and serve 1 slice with each plate.