How to Cook (and Prepare) The Perfect Turkey This Christmas
If there are two words that should never be uttered in the same sentence, they are “Christmas” and “diet”. That being said, it’s not compulsory to pour flaming brandy all over your health and fitness this time of year. With a few simple tweaks to the order of the day, you can revel in all the flavour, without the resultant food coma.
The best place to start? The big bird itself. Some 95% of the calories in turkey breast consist of protein, making it the ideal muscle and weight loss fuel for Christmas. Providing you prep and cook it to perfection, of course. Follow our culinary tricks and tips to enjoy all of the flavour and fun this festive season – with no nutritional fallout…
Pick and Prep Your Turkey
“A turkey isn’t just a turkey,” says award-winning turkey farmer Paul Kelly. There are various breeds to pick from, of which the Bronze is the gold-standard. “They’re aged for two months longer than white birds and so have more time to lay down muscle (for higher-quality proteins) and develop more intramuscular fat (marbling).”
This is a good thing: pasture-raised turkeys are a great source of omega-3s. If you’re in the market for a more artisan bird, you want one that’s been dry-plucked and hung. “It’s a less common, but worthwhile practice that tenderises the meat and deepens the flavours.”
How to Cook Turkey
1. Place your bird breast-down in a roasting tin. Don’t add foil (mature birds will cook well without) and don’t brine it: “You can make crackling out of the skin later,” says Kelly. Simply pour in 500ml water and rub the outside with salt and pepper, adding a pinch under the skin, too.
2. Roast in the oven at 180°C, or 160°C if fan-assisted. Turkeys with a bit more fat will cook faster: you’re looking at about 2½ hours for a 7kg bird. Halfway through, flip it, season again, and add some more water if it’s evaporated. Check it with a thermometer: 60°C is the golden number for high-quality turkeys, or 74°C for supermarket birds. Let it rest for an hour before serving.
3. Now for the finishing touch: peel off the skin and place on a baking tray. Season and return to a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp and crunchy.
How to Choose the Healthiest Cut
White meat: This is roughly 95% protein, making it lower in calories than darker cuts. It’s also packed full of B vitamins for energy metabolism.
Dark meat: It’s richer in iron and selenium than white meat, two minerals which support energy during the winter months.
Giblets: Offals meats such as liver and heart are high in zinc, which raises testosterone levels. Add them to your gravy.
*This article was originally published on Men’s Health UK