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Mary Berry serves up her top tips for cooking a perfect Christmas turkey

Julie Delahaye

Cooking Christmas dinner for the family can be quite a stressful experience – and the pressure intensifies when it comes to cooking the perfect Christmas roast turkey.

Luckily, Great British Bake Off and food guru Mary Berry is on hand to help you cook the turkey to perfection. In her cookbook Mary Berry's Christmas Collection, the queen of the kitchen reveals her top tips for ensuring you serve up the ultimate Christmas turkey this festive season…

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Mary Berry has shared her top tips for the perfect Christmas turkey

Get the essentials:

"Make sure you have supplies of extra-wide foil, kitchen roll, clingfilm and non-stick baking paper. It is good to have a large spoon for basting. A skewer or meat thermometer is essential for testing the turkey."

Buy fresh turkeys:

"Order a fresh turkey in good time from your butcher or supermarket, or even online from a specialist supplier. It is worth asking in advance how much notice they need. Also ask whether they deliver – one less thing for you to do!"

Thaw frozen turkeys properly:

"Fresh turkeys are best, but if you do buy a frozen bird take care to thaw it thoroughly. Thaw the turkey in a cool place such as the garage, not in the fridge or in water. Watch the temperature outside though, because if it is freezing the turkey will take longer to thaw. Aim to have the turkey defrosted completely and into the fridge by Christmas Eve. When thawed the meat should be soft and the cavity ice free. Check that the legs move freely from the breast too."

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Allow enough time for the turkey to cook and rest properly

Check the turkey is cooked properly:

"To test whether the turkey is cooked with a skewer, insert the skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and check the juices – they should run clear when the turkey is cooked. If the juices are still pink, then the turkey is not yet cooked. Pull the legs away from the breast to allow the heat to circulate and return the turkey to the oven for about 15-30 minutes before testing again. Cover the breast of the turkey with foil to protect it from getting too dark and drying out."

Make sure to rest the turkey:

"Loosely cover the whole cooked turkey with foil, then also with clean towels to keep the heat in. The turkey will happily sit like this for up to 2 hours and still be piping hot when carved. While the turkey is resting there is plenty of time to cook the sausages wrapped in bacon, re-roast the potatoes and parsnips, reheat the vegetables, stuffing, bread sauce, scarlet confit and gravy."

Carve the turkey starting with one side:

"I find it easier to carve one side of the turkey first. Take off one leg and cut in half to give a drumstick and thigh. Carve the meat from the leg – you may find this easier with a smaller knife – and slice the thigh meat. Cut the wing off the bird as close to the breast as possible, then slice the breast meat on the diagonal, including some stuffing. Arrange the meats and slice stuffing on a serving platter so everyone can have a little light meat from the breast and dark meat from the legs."

For more ideas and an array of recipes, pick up a copy of Mary Berry's Christmas Collection, published by Headline. 

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