Most of us buy our Christmas turkey from a supermarket, trussed and accompanied by cooking instructions. But for those of our readers who have obtained a bird elsewhere, and are wondering how to cook this unfamiliar monster, we have some pointers to success.
If you stuff the turkey, do so at the neck end only to ensure rapid heat penetration. Then push the ends of the legs into the body cavity and tie together with string to secure in place.
Weigh the stuffed bird and estimate the cooking time. For birds up to 3.5 kg, allow 45 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes. For heavier birds, use the table below. Add 20 minutes (resting time before carving) to calculate when to start cooking.
Season, and smear with butter or oil.
Put the turkey into a deep roasting tin and cover loosely with foil. Now wash your hands.
Roast in a preheated oven at 190 °C (170 °C for fan ovens) or gas mark 6, basting regularly to keep the bird moist. Remove the foil 45 minutes before the end of the cooking time to allow the breast to brown. Test by pushing a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear, not at all pink.
After the turkey is cooked, leave it for 20 minutes in a warm place, covered with foil. This will make the bird easier to carve.
Weight No. of servings Approximate
including stuffing cooking time
. (foil wrapped)
2 to 3.5 kg 6 to 12 1¾ to 3 hours
3.5 to 5 kg 12 to 18 3 to 3½ hours
5 to 7 kg 18 to 24 3½ to 4 hours
7 to 9 kg 24 to 30 4 to 5½ hours