So, yesterday I shared my experience at the Lean on Turkey Masterclass with Marco Pierre White, and now it’s time for me to pass on this information so that you too can cook the perfect Christmas dinner!
Quite often you hear people say that turkey is a really dry meat, or is really hard to cook…I’m one of those people who doesn’t think this!! I actually love roast turkey, and really look forward to preparing it at Christmas!
Marco showed us that it can be a really simple task and not have to take hours and hours of slaving in the kitchen to get a perfect Christmas roast on the table.
Marco shared lots of tips during the masterclass…
- Choose a turkey that is about 12lb. It serves 8-10 portions, is a good size for a domestic oven and cooks very quickly.
- Break down the turkey into joints. Ask your butcher to do it for you, or tackle it yourself! It is easier to cook this way as the breast and thighs need slightly different cooking times. It’s this difference that makes people think turkey is a hard bird to cook – as well as turning it dry! It’s not the bird, it’s the cook!
- If you are jointing the turkey yourself, a sharp, good quality carving knife and confidence is a must.
- For a perfect turkey, cook the crown and thigh joints filled with stuffing to protect the meat and lock in moisture.
- Remove the wishbone before cooking as it makes carving a lot easier.
- Cooking the turkey too slow will it dry out; too quickly and it won’t cook properly all the way through.
- Use the bones left from jointing the turkey as trivets in the roasting tin. Then use the cooked bones to make the gravy. If you don’t want have the bones (perhaps you bought just the crown) use chicken wings instead.
- The first thing you need to do once you have taken the turkey out of the oven is wait.
- Use a meat probe thermometer to test when you turkey (or any meat) is cooked – it takes all the guess work out of it, enabling you to have perfectly cooked meat every time.
Marco demonstrated how to joint a turkey…take off the wings first, followed by thighs and legs and then finally the back. He also removed the wishbone as it makes for easier carving.
He then chopped up the bones that he wouldn’t be using, with some very scary meat cleaver chopping action! He used the bones as a trivet to cook the crown and the thighs on. The benefit of this, is that it can then be used to make a delicious gravy. Marco claimed that not many people like the brown meat from the turkey and that’s why he uses those parts to make gravy. My hubby would beg to differ on this as he loves the turkey leg at Christmas time!
With the turkey jointed, it was time to make stuffing. I was surprised to learn that even a top chef such as Marco Pierre White uses Paxo for his perfect stuffing! He reduced the amount of water the box states you need by a third. This is to allow for the juices that will come out while the bird is cooking.
- 400g Paxo stuffing mix
- 400g Sausage meat
- 400ml Boiling water
- ½ White onion, finely chopped
- 10 Fresh sage leaves, finely slcied, or 1 tbsp of dried sage
- 1 Knob of butter
- Sweat the onions in the butter until they have a little colour. This removes the water content and makes them sweeter. Add the sage.
- Pour the boiling water over the Paxo and mix together. Stir in the onions and leave to cool.
- Add the sausage meat to the cooled Paxo and mix together well. Your perfect stuffing is now ready for use.
Stuff the end of the crown (where the wishbone came from) with the sausagemeat stuffing, and fold the excess skin over and tuck it under the bird. Brush with melted clarified butter and season lightly with salt.
To stuff the thighs, gently prise the skin away from the flesh to make an opening and press some stuffing in. Smooth it out and again, brush with butter and season.
Any leftover stuffing can be rolled into balls to cook off.
I took a video on my iPhone (not the loudest of sound I’m afraid!) of Marco preparing the turkey for roasting. At 1:50 Marco says sorry to me as he thought he threw salt in my direction and that I was flicking it away! I was actually fanning myself as it was blooming hot in that kitchen!
On the day of the masterclass, Marco placed his turkey joints into a greased roasting tray. In his videos on the Lean on Turkey website, he actually uses all the excess bones as trivets (which then get used to make gravy). This is a good timesaver in that you can get your gravy on the go whilst cooking the turkey and eliminating the need for another pan. If you don’t have turkey bones to use, you can always use chicken wings (which I have done in the past). I’ll be talking about making the perfect gravy (and the perfect cranberry sauce) in another post.
Marco cooked the turkey at 200C for about an hour and a half. When the meat thermometer reaches 66C for the breast and 72C for the thighs, it is cooked. Test the thickest part of the meat.
The smell that hit me when the turkey was taken out of the oven was A-MAZ-ING! Really, it smelled delicious, and I couldn’t wait to sample the food!
Join me again tomorrow for how to cook Marco’s perfect gravy and perfect cranberry sauce! Just writing this blog post and remembering how good a turkey dinner this was is making my mouth water! I think I might have to roast a turkey at the weekend at this rate!
Disclosure: I was compensated to attend the masterclass. All opinions, words and images are my own.