There is no good reason to fear the noble turkey.
Turkey has an intimidating reputation, sometimes reducing even the most confident home cook to jelly. But is it really the turkey, or the occasion itself that induces a slightly raised heartbeat and that feeling of background anxiety that something is about to go seriously wrong?
If you can successfully roast a chicken, you can cook a turkey. It really is that simple. And while turkey has a reputation for being dry, tasteless and either overcooked, or undercooked – there are a few simple tricks to ensure that you produce a delicious roast bird with minimum stress.
When selecting, a Farm Boy Fresh Turkey is a great place to start. Direct from Hayter’s Family Farm in Dashwood, Ontario – they are guaranteed tender or your money back. Allow for 1.5 lbs per person, or more if you want leftovers.
The most important thing is to get the cooking time correct. It’s true that turkey can be dry, so don’t overcook the bird. Cooking your stuffing on the side is just simpler and leaves less room for error on the cooking time. Set your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. And plan to cook your bird for 13 to 15 minutes per pound. Then rest it on the stovetop in a warm place, for at least 30 minutes.
Treat turkey exactly as a chicken. First, loosen the skin over the breast of the bird carefully using your fingers. Then stuff several generous slivers of butter between the skin and the breast. This will help to stop the tender breast meat from drying out. Next, cover the breast and legs with pieces of bacon, laying them over the exposed surfaces. This will also prevent the meat from drying out and will produces delicious pieces of crispy bacon at the end!
Next, stuff the cavity of the turkey with several sprigs of fresh rosemary, a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and roughly chopped wedges of lemons and oranges. These help to keep the meat moist.
Roughly chop an onion and spread it over the bottom of your roasting pan. Throw in several whole peeled cloves of garlic. Place the turkey on top and add one litre of chicken or vegetable stock. Don’t panic if you haven’t got homemade, Farm Boy makes an excellent one!
Also read: How to use holiday leftovers?
Slide the turkey into your pre-heated oven and roast until a knife inserted between the thigh and breast of the bird produces a clear juice, or a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the thigh. Keep an eye on the bacon and once it is nearly crisp, remove the bird from the oven, set the bacon aside for snacking while you prepare the remainder of the meal, or for serving with the bird. Baste the turkey with the pan juices and if you like, drizzle with a little honey. Return it to the oven until the skin is golden brown.
Remove the turkey from the oven, set it somewhere warm and cover with tinfoil to rest for 30 minutes. Now it is time to slice and arrange a combination of dark and light meat on a serving platter. Make sure your knife is sharp for easy carving. Some people swear by an electric knife to make it easier.
You can then use the pan juice, onions and garlic to make gravy (or save them for stock or soup and instead, indulge with Farm Boy™ Turkey Gravy).
Using a metal spoon, skim off as much fat from the pan juices as possible. Then, using a wooden spoon, crush the now-soft onions and whole garlic cloves into the pan juices. Taste and adjust flavour with salt, pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar, which can add depth, sweetness and a nice dark colour. If your gravy is too liquid, carefully add a dessert spoonful of flour and stir it into the liquid, being careful to crush any lumps that form. Simmer for five minutes to cook the flour and thicken.