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How to cook a turkey

The Lebanese Recipes Kitchen (The home of delicious Lebanese Recipes and Middle Eastern food recipes) invites you to learn How to cook a turkey.

Is it your turn to cook Christmas lunch for family and friends this year? Well, there's no need to panic! By following our simple tips and techniques you'll discover how easy it is to cook and serve a mouth-watering roast turkey.

What you need

For perfectly prepared turkey, have the following equipment on hand before you start:

  • pastry brushes for brushing the turkey with butter
  • unwaxed white kitchen string for trussing the turkey
  • non-stick baking paper and foil for covering the turkey
  • a large roasting pan for cooking the turkey
  • a wire rack to be placed inside the roasting pan. The turkey sits on this rack during cooking
  • a skewer to test when the turkey is ready
  • a carving knife and fork for when you're ready to carve.

Turkey basics

Frozen whole turkeys are available from supermarkets all year round, starting from around 2.5kg (size 25), which is enough to feed up to six people (see Guide to turkey weights). To get the most from your turkey, follow these tips.

Thaw frozen turkeys in the fridge - never on the kitchen bench. A large turkey can take more than three days to thaw. Once thawed, leave it in the fridge until ready to cook. Stuff the turkey just before cooking.

Turkey breast is very lean and the lack of fat means it can dry out during the long cooking process. Cooks traditionally covered the turkey with a piece of muslin soaked in melted butter to keep it moist, but it's easier to use non-stick baking paper and foil. Covering the breast with strips of bacon or prosciutto also helps to keep the moisture in and adds extra flavour. It's also important to baste the turkey with melted butter or pan juices to prevent it drying out during roasting.

The sheer size of a turkey means that it can take up the whole of a standard domestic oven, leaving no room for roasting the vegies you plan to serve with it. If this is the case, cook your vegetables, separately, first. Once done, cover them with foil and set aside while you cook the turkey. Then, while the turkey is resting, return the oven shelves to their original positions and increase the temperature. Uncover the vegetables and return to the oven until heated through.

To store leftover turkey, allow it to cool slightly. Remove all of the meat from the carcass and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. You can also use the carcass to make stock. To freeze leftover turkey meat, wrap in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Label, date and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Guide to turkey weights
Turkey weight
No. of serves
Thawing time in fridge
Cooking time for a stuffed turkey*
2.5kg/size 25
2-2 1/2 days
1 1/2-2 hours
4.5kg/size 45
3 days
3-3 1/2 hours
6.75kg/size 67
3-3 1/2 days
4 1/2-5 hours
9kg/size 90
3 1/2 days
6-6 1/2 hours

Turkey cooking tips

Step 1: Preheat oven to 180°C. Place an oven shelf in the lowest position so the turkey will be in the centre of the oven. Remove the other shelves.

Step 2: Add a little water to a roasting pan (this will help keep the turkey moist).

Step 3: Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a wire rack in the pan. Brush with melted butter then cover with non-stick baking paper. Finally, cover the pan with foil to seal. Cook according to recipe.

Step 4: To test if cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear, the turkey is ready. Transfer to a carving tray and cover loosely with foil. Set aside for 10 minutes to rest before carving.


Australian Good Taste - December 2006 , Page 146
Author Michelle Southan 

More from Lebanese Recipes kitchen:

Prosciutto wrapped turkey
Turkey Kefta with Sweet Onion and Raisin Sauce
Middle Eastern roast turkey 
Turkey with Kabsah Spices
Cider roast turkey
Pancetta-wrapped turkey breast with herby lemon & pine nut stuffing

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