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How to prepare the ultimate Christmas turkey

Master a turkey this holidays with these simple tips - from buying your bird through to carving it.

How to prepare the ultimate Christmas turkey

Buying a bird

Start by choosing the right bird for you. A free range turkey is probably your best option. While it’s more expensive than your average turkey – it will taste a lot better.

If the thought of handling a whole bird terrifies you, opt for a rolled turkey breast – Christmas is not meant to be a stressful ordeal, so do yourself a favour.

Size-wise, make sure you buy a bird that will fit in your oven. It sounds obvious but so many people forget this! Ration out about 500g of raw meat per person.

Remember to fully defrost your turkey if it’s been stored in the freezer. On Christmas Eve, take the turkey out of the freezer, place it onto a tray, cover it in foil and place on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Never defrost it on the shelf.


Don’t be afraid to pack a lot into your turkey – if you’ve gone for the full bird, they can hold a lot. Fill the neck cavity only and not the body cavity. If you’d rather not, cook your stuffing separately.

Be sure to adjust your cooking time to allow for the extra weight of the stuffing.


A little turkey secret we love is basting your bird in butter with a pastry brush throughout cooking for added flavour and a great golden skin.

And another one: Cook the turkey breast side down until the last half hour. That keeps the breast meat succulent but also allows the meat to cook easily.

To find out if your turkey is ready, plunge a fork into the deepest part of the thigh or the breast. If the juices run clear your turkey is probably done.

Once it’s cooked, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest in a warm place for about 15 to 30 minutes.


Cut the wings and legs first by holding them by the knuckle and twisting them off. Then you can just pull all that succulent meat off the bone.

Now it’s time to move onto the main body of the bird. Carve the breast meat from one side at an angle following the breast bone. Repeat on the other side but only when you’ve finished on the first side. Carving at an angle will make the most of the grain of the meat.

Now don’t forget – there’s plenty of tasty meat on the sides of the turkey, close to the backbone. This is where the oysters are. (not actual oysters but succulent round pieces of meat).

Dig in!

For tips on preparing the perfect Christmas ham, click here.

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