Perfect turkey: Quick, unstuffed and upside down

The proof: Perfect turkey

There was a lot of scepticism around my friends and family when the ‘mini cookbook’ was retrieved from the rather lavish box the turkey was handed over in.

A 5kg turkey that cooks in two hours 15 mins??!!!

Queue tales of food poisoning, of people eating Christmas lunch at 5pm or getting up in the middle of night to ensure it started early enough.

Over the past few weeks I’ve received all sorts of advice – stuff with sausage meat, rub with goose fat, a strange brine bathing ritual, wrapping in foil, place on celery sticks and put water in the pan et. etc. but it was all in vain. I ignored them all.

In the end it was simple and here’s what I learned.

  1. Cook without foil.
  2. Put the bird upside down until the final 30 mins.
  3. Only stuff the neck end – I used chestnut puree.
  4. Put a peeled onion in the other end.
  5. Rest it a good long time. I wrapped it in foil and tea towels and rested for about an hour.

The resulting bird was moist, cooked all the way through, hot and delicious!

Thanks to the farmer at Burtree House Farm for the excellent Kelly Bronze bird and these reliable cooking tips. I will not fear the Christmas lunch again.

Also quick thanks to other providers; Carricks fishmongers for the salmon, cheese from various locals providers but especially Hunter House Farm, Teesdale for the exceptional fresh goat’s cheese and finally, for the elegant table settings complete with sparkly table confetti.

That’s it for another year then, a lesson learned. How did your big lunch go?


3 thoughts on “Perfect turkey: Quick, unstuffed and upside down

  1. Turkey really doesn’t need much cooking. Mine was a little heavier and was in for about 3 and a bit hours, with a great big long rest at the end. I can remember my mum setting turkeys off very early in the morning – they must have cooked for pushing six hours!

    The rest is vital.

    It corrects any slight mis-timings by a) allows juices to relax back into the meat if it’s been a little overcooked or b) lets the bird carry on cooking if it’s underdone.

    With a long rest, it’s perfect every time.


  2. Looks and sounds great, Sarah. I cooked it the way I know always does the job – bacon and butter on breast, loosely wrapped in foil but well-sealed, usual way up, only stuffed with well-seasoned onions and butter, foil and bacon removed for last 30 mins (had one of those little self-timers stuck in the breast by the way), then rested for 45 mins with foil replaced. The meat was deliciously moist and skin crispy, but I think I might try it your way next time.

    I prefer to cook the stuffing in a separate dish so that it doesn’t get too greasy. Having said that, the potatoes were roasted in goose fat.

    I’m told the Spanish boil their turkeys with lots of garlic, vegetables, herbs, and no doubt olive oil.


    1. wow, you’d need a big pot to boil it! glad yours worked out too – notice you also did a long rest. maybe that is the secret to moistness after all.


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