Christmas day lunch countdown .. some turkey tips!

Posted on December 20th, 2012
Categories: News

With five days to go before Christmas day lunch, I thought I would share some tips to help you prepare for the big day!

Find the weight of your turkey on the label, or weigh it (use your bathroom scales if they are digital). This will help you work out how long to cook the bird and work out when to put the turkey in, based on what time you want to eat. You can then work the rest of the dishes around this time.

All weights below will feed the number of adults generously with some leftovers for Boxing Day! Make sure your roasting dish is big enough for the size of bird you have bought – to also allow for the stuffing morsels and chipolatas wrapped in bacon.


Weight of turkey Feeds number of people Cooking times (not including the rest)
3-4kg 4-6 people 4 kgs = 2 hours and 40 minutes max
4-5kg 6-8 people 5 kgs = 3 hours and 25 minutes max
5-6kg 8-10 people 6 kgs = 4 hours and 10 minutes max
6-7kg 10-12 people 7 kgs = 4 hours and 55 minutes max
7-8kg 12-15 people 8 kgs = 5 hours and 40 minutes max


* Rest time is a minimum of 45 minutes. You can rest for an hour if necessary.

Defrosting your turkey:

When defrosting your turkey, you must sit the bird in a deep roasting dish and defrost in the bottom of your fridge for 2 days (remove from the freezer on the morning of the 23rd December).   To check it is completely defrosted, pull the leg away from the thigh – there should be no resistance.

Cooking times for your turkey:

Calculate your cooking times accurately. Allow 40 minutes per kg for the first 4kgs of weight.  Once the turkey exceeds 4kg, it is 45 minutes per extra kg (ie. 5kg bird = 40 minutes x 4kg + 45 minutes).  The temperature should be 180°C / Gas 4. For the final 30 minutes, with the foil off the turkey, turn the oven up to 200°C / Gas 6.

Is your turkey ready?

Push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh, then catch the juices in a spoon or onto a white plate.  The juices should be clear, with no sign of pink. If they are pink, return to the oven for another 20 minutes, then test again.   Remember all ovens vary so it is important to test the bird rather than taking it as done by the time in the oven.

Always leave the turkey to rest for 45 minutes, covered in tin foil, with a few tea towels on top. Resting allows the juices to settle back into the meat. This guarantees a moist bird.  This also allows for you to cook the vegetables and gravy, during this period.

If you find that you have overcooked your turkey, fear not, carve the bird in the kitchen – away from prying eyes! – and place onto a gorgeous platter and pour a little watered down gravy all over the bird to give it some juices before serving.

Preparations and to do on Christmas Eve – 24th December:

  • Chill the champagne and white wine in the fridge
  • Sharpen the carving knife
  • Make sure you have enough tin foil and a large enough roasting dish for the turkey
  • Make sure you have brandy to light the Christmas pudding!
  • Make the giblet stock (to use on Christmas day for the gravy)
  • Make the cranberry sauce
  • Peel the potatoes, cut them and keep them in water in the fridge
  • Make the stuffing and keep in the fridge
  • Wrap the chipolatas in the bacon and keep in the fridge
  • If you are making bread sauce, infuse the milk with the herbs etc. the day before and keep the infused milk in the fridge
  • Make extra ice
  • Prepare and locate your serving dishes, plates, tablecloth, napkins, glasses, cutlery, salt & pepper pots – work out which plate/platter you will use for each dish (avoids last minute panics!)
  • Get the Christmas crackers out of the cupboard!
Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful 2013!
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