Perfect Christmas Turkey Edited for 2014

Christmas shouldn't be a time of panic. Do this & you won't have a dry turkey ever again. Read everything before you do anything because it looks more complex than it really is.

Method

*****THIS PART OF THE PREP SHOULD BE DONE ON CHRISTMAS EVE*****

If you get a frozen turkey make sure its completely defrosted. Whatever turkey you have make sure when you prep it the skin is completely dry and the turkey is room temperature. Also remove the giblets!

Allow the butter to get to room temperature. We're going to make an herb butter to flavour the bird to make her nice and moist

Chop the herbs, zest the lemon, chop some garlic, salt, pepper and add a little lemon juice and a couple of teaspoons of oil to the butter. Let that sit for an hour at least. Don't put it in the fridge, it needs to stay at room temperature

While thats sitting get your bird and start pinching the skin and massaging it and pulling it away from the flesh of the breast. Don't be really rough with it, you don't want to tear it but you do want it to come away to make the next stage easier

Once you've done that go to the neck end. If there's an excess flap of skin trim it away we aren't going to stuff this bird. All stuffing the bird does is increase the cooking time and increase the chance of drying it out we don't want to do that. Put your hand up the skin and feel for the membrane that attaches the skin to the flesh and poke your fingers through it. Don't use a knife you might tear the skin.

Take your herb butter and either spoon or if you have a piping bag pipe the butter into the space between the skin and the flesh. Smooth the butter all the way over the breasts and all the way down the the wing and leg joints. Make sure you leave a little back

If the bird has huge drumsticks put a couple of slashes in them to help cook them through and smear the remainder of the butter on them and the wings. Also remove any string or elastic and leave space between the legs and wings and the body this allows room for the air to circulate

The bird is almost ready for the oven. Just need now to prep the roasting pan. I'm lazy so I use a disposable roasting tray because I can't face washing up and I put it on a baking sheet so its strong enough to move around and I can still make gravy in it. You do whatever you normally do.

Get your roasting tray and put a raised grill in it so the turkey won't sit in its own juices and will roast the whole way round. Cut the large onion in half and put it cut side down at one end of the tray, take your bird and rest the cavity side on the onion so the bird is tilted with the cavity side upward.

Pour the water into the cavity so its going to steam the bird from the inside while its cooking. So we're making the bird moist from the outside with the butter going in and the steam on the inside trying to get out. Also in the cavity you can also put some flavourings like lemon and garlic and obviously salt and pepper

Now lightly brush the skin with oil (or use frylight or similar) and season well, if you want you can add a crushed stock cube, if you want you can cover with bacon.

*****THIS BIT CAN BE DONE ON CHRISTMAS DAY MORNING*****

Cooking Times:-

Cooking times depends on the bird and the cooker

In general I would suggest GM 4 or equivalent and give 15 mins per pound then test with a skewer in the thickest parts of the thigh, breast and drumstick and if the juices run clear then its done. If not keep giving it an extra 15 minutes until the juices do run clear.

Once its cooked tip it up because theres likely to be some of the water left inside that hasn't steamed away, this is good. If there isn't you might be in trouble! This water can also form the base of a stock if you haven't made any yet or you can add it to the gravy if you have, either way its very tasty so don't throw it away.

Most importantly no matter what type of bird you have or how you cook it never ever shall you ever attempt to carve it without giving it at least 45 minutes resting time. 45 minutes is the rock bottom bare minimum. An hour is better, 75 minutes better still, keep it loosely covered while its re

Hints 'n' Tips

I know this looks a bit daunting. But all the prep can be done on Christmas Eve so all you have to do is pop it in the oven on Christmas Day morning and you don't have to panic about it. You don't have to stuff it either so theres not that worry about will it burst and it will dry out.

One thing you shouldn't do is cover it in the oven because you're just steaming it and increasing the temperature which we don't want to do. This is all about long slow, controlled cooking

I'm basically lazy so I do cook this in a disposable roasting tin and then I throw it away. Christmas is too precious to waste on washing up. I'd rather spend a quid on a tray that 3 hours at the sink.

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