The biggest issue in roasting poultry whole is keeping the breast moist whilst getting the legs cooked all the way through…
The latest advice from the British Turkey Information Service is that if the turkey is over 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 90 mins. If the bird is under 4kg, calculate 20 mins per kg + 70 mins.
To test if it's done, make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the thigh where it meets the body. If not, put it back in the oven for another 20 mins, then test again.
The biggest issue in roasting poultry whole is keeping the breast moist whilst getting the legs cooked all the way through. If you’re adept in the kitchen I would recommend whipping the legs off boning them out stuffing them and rolling them in aluminium foil into a long cylinder. Then cooking this and the Crown separately. But I guess if you are that adept in the kitchen you most likely won’t be reading this….
So, let’s start with Stuffing; Stuffing the turkey will increase the cooking time, this will give a greater chance of the breast drying out and the legs and stuffing not cooking through enough. Now that being said I Love stuffing and it can add a wonderful flavour and aroma to the turkey. What I suggest if you are a stuffing lover like me is to have double the aromatics required for the stuffing on hand. Take half of them and place them in the cavity of the turkey to provide these wonderful flavours and aromas during the cooking process. Then make the stuffing with the remaining aromatics and roll it into a long sausage wrapped firmly in aluminium and cook it separately…
Now to the turkey itself, try to get the turkey out of the fridge well in advance to let to warm up a little. Having removed the giblets and placed the aromatics in the cavity now roughly chop a good amount or stock veg (onions, celery, carrots and garlic. thyme bay leaf, and sage could also be added) for the roasting tray and add the neck if you have it as well. Take two blocks of salted butter and chop them into 1cm cubes mix them with any herbs and spices you might be using in the stuffing and set aside. Then Take the turkey and try to push your hand between the skin and the breast from the neck end to form a cavity, with-out tearing the skin, stuff the seasoned butter evenly into this cavity.
Place the Turkey on top of the veg breast up in the roasting tray season it well with salt and pepper (If you are covering the bird in streaky bacon omit the salt and pepper and cover the bird now, then pop it into a hot oven 220°C for about 20 minutes until the bird is starting to turn a nice golden colour, turn the oven don to 170°C and add a whole bottle of white wine to the tray then close the door and let it cook for another 20-30 minutes or until the wine is almost evaporated.
Add 1L of Chicken stock* to the tray and return the bird to the oven for 10 minutes to warm up the baste** the bird really well every 20-30 minutes topping the tray up with stock as required until the juices from the leg run a light pink, not quite clear, when stabbed with a small knife in the centre of the thigh. Then Turn the Oven Back to 220°C for the final 15 minutes or so to finish the bird of and crisp up the skin on the breast.
Remove the Bird from the oven and place it on the side to rest for at least 20-30 minutes this will help keep everything moist. After 10 minutes of resting you can take all those beautiful pan juices and turn them into a delicious gravy.
Once everything is ready simply pop the bird back in the oven for 5 minutes to warm the outside then serve…
* This stock will be the base for your gravy, if you don’t have fresh stock water with organic stock cubes will do fine.
**An alternative to basting the bird every 25 minutes is to turn the Turkey over so breast down in the tray once the stock is in the tray and warm and let it cook until the juices from the leg run a light pink, not quite clear, when stabbed with a small knife in the centre of the thigh. Then Turn the Oven Back to 220°C for the final 15 minutes or so to finish the bird of and crisp up the skin on the breast.