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your guide to the ultimate Christmas roast turkey

From preparations and roasting, to carving and serving, here's how to master a wow-factor Christmas turkey

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your guide to the ultimate Christmas roast turkey

Nothing says Christmas like a tender, golden-brown roast bird centring your feast. Whether you're planning a Christmas lunch or dinner, a masterpiece turkey will always wow guests. However with the all of the preparations, roasting, and carving to conquer, a little help can go a long way. That's where we come in. 

Find out below exactly what you need to master the perfect Christmas turkey, with step-by-step recipes, insider tips, and answers to all of your turkey-related queries. You'll never have a turkey panic again!

Calculate the cooking time

Roasting the perfect turkey is all about the timing, and getting it right is crucial. For turkey crowns, allow 60mins/kg of thawed weight – so a 2.75kg crown needs about 2 hrs 45 mins in an oven preheated to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. For a whole turkey, allow 20 mins/kg of thawed weight, plus 90 mins – so a 6.25kg bird needs 3 hrs 35 mins in an oven preheated to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. And for a pre-stuffed, oven-ready turkey, follow the pack instructions.

make sure YOU HAVE THE RIGHT KIT

Before you begin your quest to mastering the perfect turkey, you must be prepared with all of the right equipment. You'll need; A roasting tin, choose a tin similar in size to your turkey. A snug fit helps keep the meat tender and gives a more flavoursome gravy; some foil, choose a wide foil, so you can wrap it over the bird with no gaps, to help seal in flavour and moisture; a thermometer, this useful piece of kitchen kit takes the guesswork out of checking your roast is cooked through and safe to eat; a serving platter, because the perfect turkey deserves to be served from a stylish platter!

know how to COOK IT

Your bird is thawed, you’ve calculated the cooking time and prepped it ready to roast. Now here’s how to cook it! Put the turkey in the preheated oven – don’t forget to set a timer about 30 mins before the end of the cooking time. Remove the foil cover from the turkey to allow the skin to turn crisp and golden. When the calculated cooking time is up, check the cooking process with a meat thermometer. For the best results, stick it into the centre of the thickest part of the bird – usually the top of the thigh or the breast. If it reads 75C or above, it’s done. If the temperature is still below 75C, roast for another 15 mins, then check again. Repeat until the correct temperature is reached.

Another way to test, is to pierce the thickest part of the turkey with a skewer. If it’s cooked through, the juices will run clear. If they look pink, return to the oven for another 15 mins then check again.

After roasting, your turkey will need to rest for 30 mins to 1 hr before carving, to help the meat retain its juiciness and tender texture, so make sure you factor this into your timing. Remove the bird from the oven, then cover with fresh foil and clean tea towels to keep in the heat.

If you want to prep a whole frozen turkey, move the bird from the freezer to the fridge to thaw 48 hrs before cooking. Then, 1 hr before cooking, take it out of the fridge. Remove any packaging and ties on the legs. Pat dry with kitchen roll, rub with oil and fill the cavity with stuffing (optional). Put the turkey into a roasting tin, pack the flavouring ingredients around it and cover both the bird and the tin in foil.

CHOOSE THE RECIPE YOU desire

There are so many choices when it comes to flavouring your turkey, so we've come up with four outstanding recipes for a range of different taste buds. Our sticky maple and paprika roast whole turkey uses sweet and smoky flavours, making the crispy golden skin even more delicious; our roast in the bag turkey crown with clementine gravy is so easy to cook and served with a delicious zesty twist; our lemon and honey turkey crown is super succulent with just a hint of sweetness; and our whole turkey with herb butter is not only a simple beauty, but will fill your house with lovely aromatics.

cARVE THE MASTERPIECE

Your roast is ready, so it's time to serve it up. With a sharp carving knife and fork plus the right technique, there will be plenty of succulent turkey to go round. Start by removing the legs and thighs, cut through the skin that connects them to the breast then slice off the meat. Take out the wishbone to make it easier to cut the breasts. Next, cut off the breasts, one at a time. Run the blade of your knife down the side of the breastbone, then cut down and underneath the meat to detach it in one piece. Slice up the breast meat on a board and serve with delicious sides and Christmas drinks.

what to do IF YOU'RE HAVING A TURKEY PANIC?

Don't fret! A last-minute turkey panic doesn’t mean Christmas is cancelled – we’ve got all the tips, fixes and hacks you need to turn a festive nightmare into a dream dinner!

How do I know if my turkey is thawed?
Test the thicker parts of the bird by poking with a fork. The flesh should be soft and flexible, with no ice crystals in the cavity. If it is still frozen, submerge it in cold tap water for 30 mins, then check again. Change the water every 30 mins.

My turkey is too big to fit in the oven.
Don’t panic! Remove the legs and thighs – these can be cooked separately, or stored in the fridge to cook on Boxing Day.

The turkey skin is golden brown, but the meat in the middle isn’t cooked.
If your turkey is visibly undercooked inside or has failed a meat thermometer or skewer test, cover the bird with foil to prevent the skin browning too much, then return it to the oven until it’s cooked through.

My turkey is overcooked and looks a bit dry
No problem. Carve the turkey (see above) and put the sliced meat back in the roasting tin to soak up any leftover cooking juices. Serve drizzled with gravy.

I don’t have enough oven space for the bird and all the trimmings.
As the turkey needs to be rested after roasting, then carved, you’ll have up to about 1 hr 15 mins to cook all those tasty accompaniments. Just make sure the bird is well covered in fresh foil and clean tea towels and it should retain its heat for about 1 hr. Then serve it all with piping-hot gravy.

don't forget the sides

No Christmas is complete without an abundance of sides to accompany your centrepiece main. You can get as creative as you like with a range of recipes across Asda Good Living to try – like the best Brussels sprouts, perfect roast potatoes, and creamy cauliflower cheese. Although if you're short on time (let's be honest, who isn't come Christmas), we've got a range of quick and easy solutions in our Extra Special range

Make sure you stock up on your turkey and ingredients this year online or pop into your local store. Merry Christmas!