Thursday, 12 December 2013

13 days to go

Its come to that time of the year where we think about what meat to buy for xmas and how to cook it, how much will we need and where is the best place to buy it. 

We always buy too much meat and sadly end up throwing some of it away. I came across this tip for xmas turkey on the daily mail website

It's the highlight of Christmas day - a succulent roast turkey. But the British Turkey Sector Group admits that many first-time roasters don't even know the basics, including which end of the bird to stuff and how long a turkey should be left in the oven for. Don't get in a flap - read this indispensable guide before you start cooking.

There's nothing worse than a mean Christmas spread, so make sure the bird you buy is big enough to feed all your guests AND fit in your oven. Measure the space inside your oven from the bottom shelf to the top, and the width, and take these details with you when you go to the butcher or supermarket.

Holiday roasted turkey

Allow approximately 500g (1lb 2oz) of raw meat per serving per person. When buying your turkey, ask the butcher if they can give you some information about the bird. Knowing how and where it was reared will give you some idea of how it was treatedduring its life, which makes a big difference when it comes to quality and, most importantly, flavour.

The most common turkeys on sale in supermarkets are intensely farmed, battery-reared ones. Although cheaper, the conditions these birds have endured - little or no exposure to sunlight and hardly any exercise - mean that the meat you serve onChristmas day will be noticeably
inferior in taste.

If you can afford it, get a free-range turkey. They are far cheaper than organic ones and usually just as good. Although free-range birds can look less plump (because they've led more active lives) than indoor-reared turkeys, the meat is much more succulent and tasty because they have been allowed to mature at a slower rate and roam freely and happily.

The bird you eventually choose should have been reared outdoors and been hung 'long-legged' - butcher-speak meaning with its guts in - for at least a week. Black or bronze turkeys are known for a more gamey flavour and smaller breasts than white varieties. Top British breeds to look out for this Christmas are Norfolk Black, Cambridge Bronze and Kelly Bronze.

If you're buying a frozen turkey, make sure you allow plenty of time for your bird to defrost. This is a classic mistake and one that's responsible for many a delayed Christmas lunch. Your turkey has to be fully defrosted before you start cooking it and the time it takes to do so will depend on its size.

The best way to defrost your turkey safely is to remove all packaging, cover loosely with foil and place it on a tray in the bottom of the fridge. This is best done the night before.
When the turkey is defrosted, remove any giblets (put them to one side and keep them covered in the fridge to make gravy) and make sure there is no sign of the bird still being frozen in the cavity. Pat dry, inside and out, with kitchen paper.

It's a shame these days that most people buy ready-made stuffing, but you shouldn't be afraid to make your own. It's easy and will be much better. For a classic sage-and-onion stuffing, get some good-quality Cumberland sausages and remove the skins.

Meanwhile, fry a couple of onions with some chopped Bramley apple in about 25g of butter until soft. When it is cool, mix with the sausage meat, a handful of breadcrumbs and some chopped sage.

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