- 12 lb (5.4kg) turkey
- 1 onion, trimmed and skin removed
- 1 organic unwaxed lemon, wiped clean
- 6 oz (175g) butter, softened
- 8 rashers lardons or streaky bacon
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 pint (600ml) turkey stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the chestnut stuffing:
- 1 lb (450g) good-quality butcher's sausages
- 1 lb (450g) unsweetened chestnut pure
- 4 oz (115g) fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg, beaten
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bacon and sausage trimming:
- 24 cocktail sausages
- 4 tbsp oil
- 4 tbsp maple syrup
- 12 rashers streaky bacon
This traditional roast turkey is excellent for Christmas Day. This turkey will be cooked to perfection, and in half the time in an AGA.
You will need to take the turkey out of the refrigerator 2 hours before you are ready to cook it. Start by making the chestnut stuffing: skin the sausages and mix the sausagemeat with the chestnut pure, breadcrumbs, egg and nutmeg. Season well, but go easy on the salt. Stuff the mixture into the neck end of the turkey only, making sure that the breast is well plumped, then draw the neck skin down to cover the stuffing and secure in place with a skewer. Place the onion and lemon, both halved, in the cavity.
Smear the breast and legs with the softened butter, then place the lardons or bacon over the breast. Season the bird, then weigh to establish the correct cooking time: for fast roasting in the AGA roasting oven, an 8-12 lb (3.6-5.4 kg) bird will take 1 3/4 - 2 hours; a 12 - 16 lb (5.4 - 7.25 kg) bird will take 2 - 2 1/2 hours.
If you are using a conventional cooker, roast the turkey at 180C/350F/ Gas Mark 4 for around 3 1/2 hours. Cooking times are approximate. Place the turkey in a large AGA roasting tin, on a grill rack if you have one. Hang from the lowest set of runners in the roasting oven - or cook on the lowest shelf of a conventional oven. When nicely browned, after about an hour, baste, then cover loosely with foil and continue to roast in this position.
While the turkey is roasting, prepare the garnishes: toss the sausages in the oil and maple syrup. De-rind the 12 rashers of bacon, stretch them slightly with the back of a knife. Cut each into 2 and roll the pieces up. Put the bacon rolls and sausages in half-size roasting tins lined with pieces of Bake-O-Glide to make washing-up easy. Use a grill rack for the bacon. Put all this aside, uncooked, until the bird is ready.
Test that the turkey is cooked by piercing the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear, it is ready. Remove the turkey to a second, clean, AGA roasting tin to rest. Put the sausage and bacon garnishes in to cook at a high level in the roasting oven for 20 - 25 minutes.
Next, make the gravy in the roasting tin: drain off any surplus fat from the cooking juices and, off the heat, add the flour to the juices to make a roux. Cook on the simmering plate or on the floor of the roasting oven for a couple of minutes. Heat the turkey stock and gradually whisk it in until the gravy is to your desired consistency. Allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.
Season to taste and add a good slug of sherry. Serve the turkey on a warmed platter surrounded by the bacon rolls and sausages.
AGA TURKEY TIPS AND TRICKS
- WHICH SIZE BIRD SHOULD I BUY?
Turkey: Allow 450g (1lb) per person, weighed when plucked and drawn.
Allow 225g (8oz) per person, for boned and breast-only roasts.
Goose: Allow 900g (2lb) per person, weighed when plucked and drawn.
Allow 450g (1lb) per person, for boned and breast-only roasts.
This allows for second helpings and a manageable quantity of leftovers that can be safely used up within two to three days.
Defrosting & Storing Frozen Birds
It is essential that you allow a frozen bird to defrost for the correct length of time:
Metric Imperial Thawing
2.25kg 5lb 20 hours
4.5kg 10lb 24 hours
6.75kg 15lb 28 hours
9kg 20lb 48 hours
11.25kg 25lb 48+ hours
Thaw the turkey in the coolest room – below 16°C (60°F). Remove packaging first, check regularly, once defrosted (no ice crystals remaining in the cavity and the legs are quite flexible), store covered, low down in the refrigerator at a temperature of no more than 5°C (40°F).
Remove the bag of giblets from inside a fresh bird as soon as you take delivery of it, or in the case of a frozen bird, as soon as they become loose during defrosting. Use them to make your own giblet stock ready for making incomparable gravy, it really is worth it and it’s so easy in the AGA simmering oven.
- WISHBONE REMOVAL
A tip to make the carving more elegant is to remove the wishbone before cooking. This will vastly facilitate carving the breast giving you lovely even slices. Either ask your butcher to do this for you, or do it yourself using a very sharp knife. Cut carefully to avoid piercing the skin. Loosen the skin at the neck end and ease your fingers up between the breast and the skin. Cut the wishbone at the base end near the wing joints first, cut up along the bone to remove from the flesh and loosen at the top, twisting to remove. You might like to consider asking your butcher to remove the leg tendons before roasting. Beware cross contamination – after handling raw poultry wash all utensils, surfaces and your hands to prevent bacteria being transferred.
Rinse the inside of the bird with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the insides of both cavities with salt and pepper and a generous amount of butter. In the interests of food safety with a turkey it is recommended to stuff the neck or breast end only. In the body cavity place a quartered peeled onion and lemon together with a stick of celery, a few batons of carrot with some sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme which will pervade the bird with aromatic flavour. Allow about 225g (8 oz) prepared stuffing for each 2.25 kg (5 lb) of dressed bird. Either use a homemade stuffing, or doctor two packets of a good quality Sage and Onion stuffing mix: make up with boiling water as directed, adding a good knob of butter and plenty of seasoning. When quite cold, mix well with 900g (2 lb) of sausage meat (taken from good quality sausages). Stuffing must be cold before being used and it is recommended to stuff the bird just before cooking. If liked, prepare the stuffing ahead of time, and then refrigerate or freeze it, but stuff the bird with stuffing at room temperature just before you are ready to roast it. Additional stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish, and given several bastings of turkey roasting juices as it cooks. It is not recommended to truss a bird, this allows free circulation of heat to all parts. Use bathroom scales covered with cling film to weigh the stuffed bird.
- TURKEY CROWNS
A Turkey Crown has the legs, wing tips and back bone removed from the bird, leaving the double breasts still attached to the ribs and sternum. This is increasingly a popular choice these days, making for easy carving whilst retaining a traditional appearance on the Christmas dining or buffet table. If dark meat is liked, consider asking your butcher to make you a crown, and cook the legs separately, perhaps boned and then stuffed
- ROAST FROM ROOM TEMPERATURE
It is vital that the bird is not roasted straight from the refrigerator. Roasting times allow for cooking a bird from room temperature, i.e. one that has been taken out of the refrigerator and left in a cool room for several hours before cooking.
- TENTING WITH FOIL AND BASTING
When you are roasting a turkey or goose, remember that you are cooking two different types of meat – the delicate light breast meat, which must not be allowed to dry out – and the darker leg meat which takes longer to cook. Generously butter the breast and cover with rashers of streaky bacon orlardons. Aim to make a roomy tent over the bird to protect the breast from overbrowning, also use foil to protect the legs if they start to brown too quickly. With an AGA, basing is only needed very occasionally during periods in the roasting and baking ovens. If necessary, remove the foil for the last 30 minutes to crisp the skin.
- AGA TURKEY ROASTING TIMES
In the interest of food safety is it important that the internal temperature of raw poultry should rise from room temperature to 60°C (140°F) within four hours at the start of the cooking. With the slow method this is particularly important, this is why I recommend an initial period in the hot roasting oven. All cooking times are approximate.
- FAST METHOD (2, 3, 4 AND 5-OVEN AGA COOKERS)
Rub liberally with butter. Place in the AGA roasting tin, on a grill rack if liked. Hang from the lowest set of runners in the roasting oven for one hour until nicely browned, then tent loosely with foil. The TOTAL fast method roasting times are:
Metric Imperial Roasting Time
3.6 – 5.4kg 8 – 12lb 1¾ – 2 hours
5.4 – 7.25kg 12 – 16lb 2 – 2½ hours
7.25 – 9kg 16 – 20lb 2½ – 3 hours
9 – 10.8kg 20 – 24lb 3 – 3½ hours
10.8 – 12.6kg 24 – 28lb 3½ – 4 hours
- MEDIUM METHOD (3, 4 AND 5-OVEN AGA COOKERS)
Rub liberally with butter. Place in the AGA roasting tin on a grill rack if liked. Hang from the lowest set of runners in the roasting oven for up to one hour until nicely browned, then tent loosely with foil. After the first hour in the roasting oven, transfer the turkey to the baking oven to finish cooking, for the following:
Metric Imperial Roasting Time
3.6 – 5.4kg 8 – 12lb 1½ – 2½ hours
5.4 – 7.25kg 12 – 16lb 2½– 3½ hours
7.25 – 9kg 16 – 20lb 3½ – 4½ hours
9 – 10.8kg 20 – 24lb 4½ – 5½ hours
10.8 – 12.6kg 24 – 28lb 5½ – 6½ hours
- SLOW METHOD (2, 3, 4 AND 5-OVEN AGA COOKERS)
Rub liberally with butter. Place in the AGA roasting tin without a grill rack. Roast on the floor of the roasting oven for up to one hour and as soon as it starts to brown, tent loosely with foil. After the first hour in the roasting oven, transfer the turkey to the simmering oven to finish cooking, for the
Metric Imperial Roasting Time
3.6 – 5.4kg 8 – 12lb 3 – 5 hours
5.4 – 7.25kg 12 – 16lb 5 – 7½ hours
7.25 – 9kg 16 – 20lb 7½ – 10 hours
9 – 10.8kg 20 – 24lb 10 – 12½ hours
10.8 – 12.6kg 24 – 28lb 12½ – 15 hours
- SLOW METHOD ON AGA TOTAL CONTROL COOKERS
3-oven models: It is recommended to use the baking oven on slumber mode with the roasting oven at normal. In this way the bird can be started off in a hot roasting oven and then transferred to the baking oven in slumber mode. This oven in slumber mode operates at a slightly higher heat than the simmering oven and gives the best result for slow roasting a large bird.
5-oven models: The method given for the three-oven model can be used, or the slow cooking oven can be used instead of the baking oven in slumber mode, if preferred. Again, the slow cooking oven operates at a slightly higher heat than the simmering oven and gives the best result for slow roasting a large bird.
- AGA 60 METHOD
To cook the perfect Christmas turkey in an AGA 60 use the top oven in the baking oven setting, a 18.5lb bird will take around 4-4.5 hours to cook (similar timing to the Medium Method, see above). We recommend adding bacon over the breast meat and using a large roasting tin on floor grid or on the oven grid shelf on the floor of the oven. When turkey comes out, leave to rest for up to an hour, turn the top oven to roasting oven setting and cook the roast potatoes, parsnips, grilled bacon rolls and chipolatas. The simmering oven can then be used for all other items.
- PAINLESS CARVING
The trick to making carving a pleasure at every roast meal is easy: use a really sharp carving knife. Once the turkey has rested, cut the skin between the leg and the breast. Bend the leg outwards and cut through the joints to remove the legs. Bend these to find the joint between the thigh and drumstick and separate. Hold the drumstick in a wad of kitchen paper and carve slices along the bone. For white meat, starting from the lower end, slice the breast meat at an angle, to give elegant thin slices. Carefully transfer each slice as it is carved to a plate to prevent the meat from breaking.