Turkey really is a treat. A meat we don't eat a lot of compared to our american friends, but the bird is gaining popularity in Australia, especially at Hagens for its numerous health benefits. It's worth noting that our sliced turkey buffet is available year-round in our stores and online.
Given that whole roast turkeys only show up on our plates once or twice a year, you can be forgiven for finding the task of cooking such a large bird a little daunting. Here's a really simple recipe, and some tips to help you with your roast turkey this Christmas. Adapt this recipe to add your own flare, consider brining, marinading, or using different herbs on your bird.
As with roasting any poultry, the trick is to safely cook the meat without drying out the large white breast meat. The biggest tip I can give here, is to invest in a meat thermometer, you can pick these up all over town now, and there's no need to spend loads of money, my thermometer was ~$20 and has saved me over-cooking hundreds of dollars worth of roasts!
1 Fresh Hagens whole turkey
1/4 cup of melted butter
Freshly cracked pepper
Course of flaked good quality salt
To prepare the bird, firstly, take the bird out of the fridge 90 mins before you start cooking, this is called temping and can save you overcooking your bird to gain a safe internal temperature. Also preheat the oven to 220C.
To prepare the Turkey, place the turkey on a cooling rack in a large clean sink, ensure the plug is out to allow drainage. Take a kettle full of boiling water and pour over the turkey skin, turn the bird with a clean tea-towel to ensure all the skin has seen scaling hot water. This process pulls the skin tight which has two functions: firstly, it helps lock in moisture when cooking, and also helps the appearance and crispiness of the skin once roasted.
Remove the turkey from your sink and place on a baking paper lined tray. With a pastry brush, brush the bird with melted butter. Then season liberally with lots of course black pepper and salt.
Orient the bird so that it is upside down on the tray; breasts down. We will cook it this way for the initial heat-blast. This does several things – it helps to crisp the skin on the underside of the bird; it also gives a head-start to the the cooking of the dark meat, which takes the longest; lastly, it also helps transfer some of the natural fats and juices down to baste the breasts on the other side of the bird to help against drying it out.
Cook with the bird upside down for 1 hour at 220C. Then remove the bird from the oven and reduce the heat to 160C.
Turn the bird breast-side up and place back into the oven to cook for another 1-2 hours. This depends on the size of the bird, track the internal temperature with your thermometer as you're nearing the final cooking time. These times are in addition to the 1hr above:
3kg: 1hr 10mins
4kg 1hr 30mins
5kg: 1hr 50mins
6kg: 2 hrs 10mins
To check the internal temperature of your turkey with a probe thermometer, there are two places to check: firstly the thickest part of the breast. Slide the probe into the breast, parallel to the length of the bird, 1cm off the central breast bone, if you hit bone or find sudden release of resistance you've gon a little too far so pull back. You're looking for an internal temperature of 73 degrees C. If your reading levels out at ~70C then just cover the bird in some foil and it will continue to rise as the bird rests. The other place to check is the thickest part of the thigh, on the other side to the drumstick. Again, 73 and above is a minimum, but you will get there from 70 with a little resting under foil.