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CHEF TALK: Chef Jardella Turkey roasting tips

Chef Tony Jardella, Chef de cuisine at Perry and Blackwelder’s, Jumeirah Restaurant Group, offers his top tips for the perfect Christmas turkey…

Where do the best turkeys come from?
I’d say the best turkeys come from the USA, but probably for the wrong reasons! They are so big and meaty, which really helps with keeping them moist whilst cooking.

How big should the turkey be?
The bigger the better! I think a good ratio is 1kg (raw weight with bone) per person, then add 2kg per 4 people after that. An ideal size would be between 9-11kg.

How do you avoid it going dry?
Rubbing butter underneath the skin – working from the neck down – always helps, and then make sure you wrap with bacon to give an extra layer of skin and keep the moisture in. Also keep track of time – obviously overcooking will kill it – and continuously baste.

What oven temperature, and for how long?
For the perfect turkey, cook at 180 for first 1-2 hours and then reduce to 140 and cover the skin with foil. A 6Kg turkey will take around 4-5 hours, but make sure you cook it in advance to ensure you have time to rest your bird before carving – it needs to rest for at least 30-40 minutes.

Any advice on basting, preparation, seasoning and stuffing?
I prefer cooking the stuffing away from the bird rather than inside it. Making an amazing stock will help your stuffing in terms of flavour.
Some people like to remove the legs from the turkey and cook the breast still on the bone. You can then remove the bone from the leg, place the stuffing on the flesh side and roll into what’s called a ballontine. The turkey can then be roasted from raw or part-steamed and finished in the oven, which helps with ease of carving.

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