How to safely prepare a Christmas turkey

It’s Christmas – a time to be merry, joyful, and slightly gluttonous! Turkey is likely to be the main meat on your festive menu and the last thing you want to do is mess it up. Imagine all your family gathering around the Christmas table only to find the bird is undercooked, or you’ve burnt the entire thing – what a nightmare! Here are some simple, foolproof ways to cook your turkey properly, and safely.

First of all, ensure the turkey is correctly stored at all times – whether it be in the fridge or freezer. If frozen, give it time to thaw before cooking. You can defrost the turkey by keeping it in the fridge overnight, in a microwave, or in cold water, but never leave it out on the counter as it needs to defrost at a safe temperature. Here’s the latest FSA advice and guidance. Always make sure hands are thoroughly washed – before, and after handling the turkey and that all equipment used is clean. Keep all other foods well away.

To cook, heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Cover with butter, or olive oil all over the turkey and season to taste. Put in a large roasting tin, and roast for 40 mins per 1kg for the first 4kg, then 45 mins for every 1kg over that weight, or until the internal temperature reaches 65-70C. Check the temperature by inserting a food thermometer into three different areas on the turkey; the thickest part of the breast, where body and thigh join, aiming toward the thigh, and where body and wing join, aiming toward the wing. Always rely on your thermometer readings over time cooked as this is more accurate. Allow the turkey to stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Store any leftovers in a sealed container, in a refrigerator – consume within 3-4 days.

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