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cooked turkey on plate

CHRISTMAS KITCHEN TIPS

TURKEYS (BUYING AND COOKING)

FROZEN TURKEY

This should be put into your freezer as quickly as possible after purchase.  It can be kept for up to six months after which time it will lose some of it's flavour and texture.

Birds should not be cooked from frozen, it is imperative the bird is thoroughly defrosted before cooking. The turkey should be defrosted in the fridge although this does take longer. Place it on the bottom shelf and as this ensures it cannot drip onto any other foods. Allow at least 24 hours defrosting for every 4/5 lbs (2/2 kg) of weight.

To check it is fully defrosted make sure there are no ice crystals inside, the body is soft and the legs and wings move freely.

FRESH TURKEY

This should be bought as late as possible as it should be cooked within two days of purchase.  It should be stored in the fridge but be careful it does not contaminate other food.

At this time of year fridges are usually well stock and room can be a problem.  If you own a summer cool box this can be used to store vegetables and drinks (with the exception of dairy products, fruit juices etc.). Alternatively a container of cold water can be used to store unopened bottles of drink.

COOKING

It is imperative poultry is cooked properly in order to kill the bacteria which causes food poisoning. To check if it is fully cooked pierce the thickest part of the leg and the juices should run clear - any sign of pink shows it is not cooked properly. If you have a meat thermometer or a temperature probe check that the internal temperature reaches 72C. Temperature and time settings for cooking vary from oven to oven.

The following are approximate cooking times for turkeys in an oven, which is at 180C / 350F / gas mark 4:

Size of Turkey Stuffed Turkey Unstuffed Turkey
8-12 lbs / 3.5 - 5.5kg
3 - 3 hours
2 - 3 hours
12-14 lbs / 5.5 - 6.5 kg
3 -4 hours
3 - 3 hours
14-18 lbs / 6.5 - 8kg
4- 4 hours
3 - 4 hours
18-20 lbs / 8 - 9kg
4 - 4 hours
4 - 4 hours
20-24 lbs / 9 - 11kg
4 - 5 hours
4 - 5 hours

The modern way of thinking seems to be it is best not to stuff the cavity of the bird but to cook the stuffing separately, especially if you are likely to have some left over for another day.  Not only does it cook better without stuffing but it also keeps better afterwards.  If you are determined to stuff the bird don't overstuff and use the neck cavity only.  You will need to allow extra cooking time of approximately 10-15 minutes per lb/450g.

Any leftover meat should be taken off the bone and placed in a shallow dish and refrigerated.  It should be eaten within two days.  When reheating ensure it is hot right through (72 deg).  It can be used for making  Turkey pies or pasties but these should be prepared within 2 days, however, once made can be frozen up to 6 month.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO REMEMBER

  • Cooked food that was frozen and then defrosted should not be refrozen

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  • Remember you should reheat food only once as lukewarm food is perfect for fast growing bacteria.

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  • Leftover gravy should be re-boiled and eaten within 2 days.
  • Check use-by dates in shops and pay particular attention to perishable goods such as vacuum packed smoked salmon or ham and dairy products.

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  • Store food requiring refrigeration quickly after purchase and do not overstuff your fridge.

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  • Remember fridges should be kept below 5C and freezers below -18C.

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  • Store raw meat, including turkey, on the bottom shelf of the fridge and do not let other food come into contact with raw meat or fish or unwashed vegetables
 

 

 

 

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