Chef reveals how to cook the perfect Christmas turkey – that isn't dry

Making the perfect turkey at Christmas is not easy.

In fact, turkey has got such a bad wrap for being a dry, bland meat, that many people forego the traditional bird altogether and opt for something completely different on the big day.

But a lot of the turkey problems that people come up against is in the preparation – rather than the bird itself.

Cook it well, and your turkey will be juicy and packed with flavour – not dry.

But, how do you cook a turkey in a way that retains moisture and maximises flavour? As so many people seem to get it wrong, we asked an expert to shar their top tips for perfect festive cookery – and it could save your Christmas.

Masterchef finalist Stacie Stewart has partnered with Hexo Electrical Testing to help the nation cook the best Christmas turkey – a perfectly tender, juicy crowd-pleasing centrepiece. 

‘I cook my turkey within some of the most prestigious kitchens across London and the world at 183C for most of the cooking time, then turn the temp up to 220 C for the last 30 minutes,’ says Stacie.

‘This gives a crispy skin but isn’t long enough to dry the turkey out. It’s also a perfect temperature for brilliant crispy roast potatoes.’

The expert chef has more top tips to help your perfect your bird this season – so start taking notes:

Shop the essentials

‘Buy extra-wide foil, kitchen roll, clingfilm, non-stick baking paper and a large spoon for basting,’ says Stacie.

‘A skewer or meat thermometer is crucial for testing the turkey.’

Buy fresh turkeys

Stacie says it’s a must to order a fresh turkey from your butcher or supermarket.

‘Ask whether they deliver, one less thing to worry about,’ she adds.

Check it’s properly cooked

You can do this by inserting a skewer into the thigh – if juices run clear the turkey is cooked.

‘If juices run pink, put back in the oven for 15-30 minutes,’ says Stacie.

‘Pull the legs away from the breasts so heat can flow.’

How to make sure turkey doesn’t go dry

‘Baste baste baste.

‘However, cooking low and slow will ensure the bird doesn’t dry out, and resting the meat properly will allow for the juices to flow back through the bird.

‘I would recommend basting the bird three times during cooking, at spaced out intervals.’

Stacie Stewart

Rest the turkey

This is a crucial stage that many people miss out.

‘Cover your cooked turkey loosely with foil, also with clean paper towels to keep heat in,’ says Stacie.

‘It can sit for two hours and still be piping hot when carved. Resting is essential.’

Carve from one side

‘To carve a big bird, easily take one leg off – cut this in half,’ says Stacie.

‘Carve the meat from the leg, slice the thigh.

‘Cut the wing off – as close to the breast as possible – and slice the breast meat on the diagonal.’ 

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