Preparing and cooking your turkey for Christmas dinner is stressful enough, without the added pressure of also carefully carving and slicing the hot meat ready for your guests to enjoy.
If you want to know how best to carve a whole turkey and a turkey crown, watch our video above to find out how the skilled experts at Toby Carvery do it.
Keep reading to find out our top tips for cooking your turkey and roughly how much food you’ll need to prepare for your guests.
Need some help with carving? Find which electric carving knives will help you get the job done quickly and easily
Three tips to help you cook a perfect turkey
A turkey is a big bird and it contains much more meat than the average chicken you’d cook for a typical Sunday roast.
Whether it’s your first time cooking a Christmas turkey or your twentieth, we’d recommend following these tips to help ensure your turkey tastes delicious and is cooked to perfection:
1. Do some prep before the big day
Don’t leave everything till the last minute. We’d advise checking to make sure your turkey is the correct size for your oven as you don’t want to find out there’s an issue on Christmas Day.
If it is too big to go straight in, find out what you can do if your turkey won’t fit in the oven.
You should also decide precisely how you will be preparing your turkey. There are a few different methods you can try, for example rubbing butter on the outside or under the skin, or covering the outside in bacon or pancetta.
Alternatively you can try dry brining or wet brining, which involves rubbing salt all over your turkey or submerging it in a salty water solution. This makes the meat more tender, flavoursome and moist.
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2. Keep a note of times and temperatures
There will be a lot going on and it’s easy to forget what time you put your turkey in the oven or when the oven needs turning up or down.
Before you start cooking it’s worth making a note to remind you of the plan so you can refer to it throughout the day. It might also be sensible to set an alarm so you don’t accidentally leave your turkey in the oven for too long.
Our guide on how to cook a turkey crown explains everything you need to know about cooking temperatures and times, plus how long it needs to rest before it’s served. Resting is important, otherwise you’ll lose all of the juices when you carve it.
3. Baste regularly
Turkey can easily dry out, so you may want to roast the turkey in the oven with a little bit of water and chopped carrot in the roasting tray, as well as rosemary or some other herbs in the cavity for flavour.
However, if you want to jazz things up try using chicken broth or apple cider and honey instead of water in the base of your roasting tray, and for the best results, we’d recommend basting your turkey with the juices in the pan every so often to help the meat to roast but stay moist.
Basting with hot liquid can be dangerous, but investing in a good baster can make your cooking experience a lot safer and easier.
Basters typically cost from £5 up to £15. Find out which turkey basters we recommend.
Ensure you cook your turkey all the way through so it’s safe to eat with an accurate meat thermometer
How much food do you need for Christmas dinner?
As most hosts know, sometimes trying to work out how much food to cook can be a difficult mathematical puzzle.
Below you can see a rough estimate of how much food you need per guest.
Of course, children tend to eat less than adults, though it can depend on the child. As a general rule of thumb count any children who are twelve or older as adults in terms of portion size.
|Christmas Food||Portion per person|
|Roast Turkey||200g to 300g|
|Roasted meats off the bone||250g|
|Roasted meats on the bone||350g|
|Mixed vegetables||80g to 100g|