Festive recipe: How to cook the perfect turkey
By Ellis Barrie
From competing in the BBC’s 2018 ‘Great British Menu’ series to announcing a new Barrie Bros restaurant for Royal Albert Dock in 2019, it’s been a busy time for Liverpool’s own Ellis Barrie. The chef, who also runs Anglesey’s Marram Grass restaurant with his brother Liam and has plans for a cookery school, still found the time to rustle up this ultimate guide for cooking your Christmas Day turkey:
Making the Stuffing
• 300g pancetta, diced and pan fried until golden
• 700g sausage meat from the butchers
• Large onion, sliced and caramelised
• 50g sage
• 30g rosemary
• 30g thyme
• 250g of chopped dates
• 100g chopped apricots
• 30g chopped garlic
• 50g chopped parsley
• Zest and juice of two oranges
• 700g fresh bread crumbs
• 30ml olive oil
• 10g ground ginger
• 30g nutmeg
• 100g honey
Blend the ingredients together apart from the sausage meat and the bread crumbs, then fold the blended ingredients with the bread crumbs and sausage meat.
Preparing the Bird
Pick your bird sensibly. I recommend a medium-sized bird so that the breast doesn’t dry out while the leg finishes cooking, as with a bigger bird. Brine your bird for 12-24 hours – this helps to keep the bird moist during cooking.
The brine recipe is as follows:
– One part salt to five parts water – make enough to immerse the whole bird in liquid.
– Bring the salt and water to a high temperature on the stove to dissolve salt – don’t boil or simmer!
– Add aromats to flavour your turkey (e.g. juniper, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, all spice, sage, garlic and citrus fruit peels) and leave to cool.
– Remove the giblets from the bird then take a cloth and clean the inside of your turkey.
– Put the turkey into a snug, deep pot and pour the cool brine all over, immersing the bird.
– Refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
– Remove the turkey from the brine and dry thoroughly with a cloth.
– For a crisp skin, allow the turkey to air dry in the fridge for a further 24 hours with a loose cover over it.
Cooking the Bird
When you’re ready to cook the bird, pre-heat the oven to 175°C.
Run your fingers between the skin of the turkey, separating it from the meat, but make sure it remains attached to the carcass.
Make a butter with 50g of chopped sage, the zest of two oranges, 500g of butter and two garlic cloves by blending it all together in a food processor.
Massage the butter all around the bird in between the skin and flesh.
Cover the bottom of a deep roast oven tray with rough cut celery, carrots, garlic and onions.
Fill the cavity of the bird with your stuffing mix and sit it on top of your vegetable base. Cover with tin foil and add to the oven.
For every 500g of bird weight, cook for 20 minutes.
Remove the tin foil for the last 40 minutes of cooking and crank the heat up to 185°C
At this point, add two cups of water into the roasting tray. This will add steam into the oven to help crisp the skin and will also deglaze the roasting juices, allowing you to make a nice gravy at the end of the roast.
Once you’ve cooked the turkey for the correct time remove it from the oven, add a bit more water to the roasting tray and deglaze the tray.
Allow the bird to rest for a good 40 minutes before carving – this will allow it to maintain the moisture while carving.
Remove the carrots and celery and discard, blend the juices and onions and add a little flour to thicken the gravy.