Turkey: The Christmas Turkey

posted by Maree 11-19-100 4:59 AM

The Christmas (or Thanksgiving) Turkey - Delia Smith
Based on Delia Smith’s ideas in “Delia Smith’s Christmas” (1990), BBC Enterprises, London. ISBN# : 0 563 36048 8 with adaptations/ suggestions by Maree.

Mid-afternoon prior T’giving/ Christmas:
She starts (for the turkey, the mid-afternoon before Xmas/ T’giving) by making a giblet stock for the gravy.

Giblet Stock:
Delia suggests using the neck, and liver- I tend to supplement this with 500g/ 1lb of giblets or (at a pinch, if I can’t get giblets) chicken livers from the poultry shop- order in advance is a good idea.
1 onion, (peeled) and sliced in half;
1 carrot, peeled ad sliced in half;
a few parsley stalks;
1 celery stalk/ rib (plus a few leaves)
1 bayleaf
6 whole black peppercorns
1.5 pints (900 ml) water

Pick off any yellowish/ green bits and discard. Wash the giblets and put in a med-large saucepan with the onion. Cover with the water and bring to boiling point. Remove surface scum (discard) and add remaining ingredients. Half cover pan with lid and simmer for 1.5-2 hrs. Stain stock, cool and store (covered) in ‘fridge. Lift any congealed fat off in the morning.

Later on the Eve of T’Giving/ Christmas:

Make desired stuffing. Leave covered in a cool place but (unless in the tropics, not in the fridge, as you don’t want it too cold when it comes to stuffing the turkey. She suggests traditional, pork, sage and onion stuffing & “American” stuffing (with skinned pork sausages, apples, celery and walnuts).

T’Giving Morning/ Christmas Morning:
Timings will vary for each family (depending on what time you get up) and what time the meal is planned to be eaten. The following is for an av. Sized 14 lb (6.5kg) weight turkey (oven ready) for a 2pm lunch. If you plan on eating earlier or later/ subtract time-difference from times.

Principles of Turkey Cooking:
Here, the turkey is placed in a tent of foil so that it cooks in "an oven within an oven". Give it plenty of space between flesh and foil so it will roast in own juices and not become dry. Allow the bird to ‘relax’ for 30-45 minutes before carving. This lets juices settle back into the meat and you to finish veggies/ other sides/ dessert.

Traditional Roast Turkey (a la Delia Smith)

1 (14 lb.) oven ready turkey.
6 oz. softened butter
8 oz. fatty (repeat) *fatty* streaky bacon
salr and pepper, Freshly milled
1 quantity of stuffing.

Stuff turkey. Loosen skin at neck end with your hand and pack stuffing in towards breast. Careful not to break skin. Not too tight as stuffing expands during cooking. Tuck neck flap under bird’s back and secure with a skewer.

Stuff remaining stuffing into cavity of bird. I (Maree) add a peeled potato when finished to stop stuffing oozing out. Secure with skewer(s).

7.45 am: Preheat oven to gas mark 7/425*F/ 220*C

Arrange 2 sheets (LARGE- extra wide) of foil across roasting tin- one widthwise, one lengthwise - like a cross ...(no need to oil). Lay turkey on its back in the centre and rub turkey generously with butter esp. over thigh bones. Season with S&P and lay the bacon over the breast with the rashers overlapping each other.

Now, wrap turkey LOOSELY in the foil. The idea is to have the parcel firmly sealed but loose enough to give airspace around the top of the bird. So, bring one piece of foil up and fold both ends over to make a pleat along the breastbone. Then, bring the other piece up at both ends and crimp and fold to make a neat parcel- *** Make sure you leave enough airspace!

8.15 am, working on a 14lb turkey to be served at 2pm …. Place turkey in pre-heated oven to cook for 40 minutes.

8.55 am, lower oven temp to gas mark 3/ 325F/170C … take a break … open pressies, have a coffee or clean up (?is that a break? …lol); get table set (if not already)

12.30 pm, increase oven temp to gas mark 6/400F/200C. Get some help as you need to remove turkey from the oven. It’s hot and it’s heavy. OK, you’ve got the turkey out of the oven, remove the foil from the tops and sides of the bird and take off the bacon rashers. Baste very thoroughly with a baster or a ladle. Return to the oven for 30-45 minutes to finish browning (uncovered) - baste as often as you can at this stage. Some people serve the bacon as “sides.” I toss them- too fatty for me (or for my animals).

1.15 pm Remove turkey from oven. Transfer to a warm plate. It’ll be OK (unless you live in a hot climate) to relax in the kitchen temperature for up to 50 minutes loosely covered with double foil without loosing its heat.

Next pour the giblet stock into a pan and allow to heat gently. Tip off the excess turkey fat. It’s precious and can be used for sautéing your potatoes.

Next make giblet gravy. After spooning off excess fat from roasting tin, so only the dark juices remain, work ~ 2 level tabs of all-purpose flour into the juices over a low heat (NB**** I do NOT add flour. We prefer a “runny” gravy (jus) rather than a thickened gravy.). (If you're using flour, using a balloon whisk, whisk in giblet stock, little by little, until you have a smooth gravy. Let it bubble and reduce a little to concentrate the flavour. Taste for S&P. Pour into a jug and keep warm.

1.45 pm. All hands on deck to carve, serve and dish up. Remember the stuffing inside the turkey!

Perhaps you have a deserving dog or cat who’d appreciate the giblets from the gravy. (We strain the giblet gravy, serving only the liquid). In this house (temporarily minus a dog), the kids (and I … shame …shame) nibble on the giblets. Great in taste, high in cholesterol.

Other Timings:
*For a 8-10lb turkey/3.5-4.5kg:
Cook at 30 mins at the high temp and then 2.5-3 hrs at the lower temp, then a final 30 mins (uncovered) at gas mark 6/ 400F/200C.

*15-20lb turkey/ 6.75-9kg:
45 mins at high temp, 4-5 hours at lower temp, final 30 mins uncovered at gas mark 6/400F/ 200C.

***NB Please keep in mind that ovens and turkeys vary and the only way of knowing whether the bird is cooked/ ready is to use the “usual” tests for “done-ess” for poultry.

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