Chef de Cuisine of Bread Street Kitchen Dubai, Cesar Bartolini, shares his top turkey roasting tips with The GreatFood Club
Where do the best turkeys come from?
A local free-range organic poultry farmer is the best place to source your Christmas Day turkey. It is really important to order your turkey in advance, especially during the festive season. Atlantis sources theirs from a great place in France.
How big should the turkey be?
A great rule of thumb to work from is one pound of bone-in turkey per person, or one and a half pounds if you want enough for Boxing Day leftovers. Nevertheless, you must consider how big your oven is, if you are unable to fit the turkey inside then that is a real problem.
How do you avoid it going dry?
I would advise that you buy a fresh organic turkey instead of a frozen one. However, as frozen turkeys are more readily available here, a useful tip – firstly roast the turkey upside down and rub soft butter under the skin. Another good tip is to brine the bird 48hrs in advance.
What oven temperature, and for how long?
Here is quite a simple cheat sheet for cooking a turkey, aim for 13 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey if roasting empty and 15 minutes per pound if stuffed. Get the oven heated to 450°F initially and then lower the temperature to a min of 75°F to start cooking the bird. Once cooked, rest the turkey for at least 15 minutes before you start carving, which gives you plenty of time to make a delicious batch of gravy.
Any advice on basting, preparation, seasoning and stuffing?
I find stuffing is usually a diner’s favourite part but cooking a stuffed turkey does take longer to roast with a chance of it cooking unevenly. I would recommend you make and cook your stuffing separately, but if you do stuff your turkey, do it loosely to give the stuffing room to expand.
Make sure you rub the turkey all over with either olive oil or melted butter. This will help the turkey to crisp and give it that amazing even brown colour. Do not forget to season by sprinkling the turkey with salt to help get the skin as crispy as possible.
If the turkey is in brine prior to cooking then there is no need to add more seasoning to the bird. Butter is good and also goose fat. Adding a little lemon juice will also help with the colour of the skin.
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