How to cook the perfect turkey...

Claire Nash of Nash 19 restaurant in Cork city loves Christmas to its ribbon-tied, yuletide-scented bones. Here she shares some of her tips and tricks for creating the perfect Christmas turkey.
How to cook the perfect turkey...

Christmas Turkey, sourced locally through Healys, a free range producer, and cooked by Claire Nash of Nash 19.

THIS year we are using and sourcing as much local and free range artisan produced foods as possible for our Christmas collection.

When one is choosing a turkey, depending on your needs, you either have it on the bone, or bone and rolled. We love to know the butcher who is suppling the turkey, so for our turkey we are getting them to source through Healys, which is a free range producer - they are supplied through the English Market, through O’Sullivan's who we use throughout the year.

Sourcing your turkey is key. Support local says Claire.
Sourcing your turkey is key. Support local says Claire.

KNOW YOUR BUTCHER

Everyone has their own choice of turkey. Some like free range, some like the old traditional big bird, as I call it - like the local farmers wife would have reared and given you one, if you were lucky enough.

I got the first turkey of the year, that had been reared in Healys. We decided we would stuff it very traditionally and create "a taste memory", which for this year is very important. A lot of people are going to be cooking at home and having their small families and guests at home So it will be a very much "create a taste memory" year, we feel.

You don't have to use exotic spices, says Claire.
You don't have to use exotic spices, says Claire.

LOCAL INGREDIENTS

At Nash 19 we source as well as we can and I use what ingredients we have at hand, very much Irish ingredients - so that I am not going to be adding spices or anything exotic to my big bird.

STUFF IT

We started our stuffing with parsley , sage, rosemary and thyme, real butter, fill the cavity of the turkey with whatever breadcrumbs you wish, using that bread stuffing.

At the other end - I use Annascaul pudding - I mixed some white pudding into it and some nuts. One could mix in cranberries or whatever suits into that, whatever you want to create.

SLOWLY DOES IT

We slow cook our turkeys, I don’t like them to be fast cooked because when you have something that is so beautiful and something so nicely reared, and delicate, it is a very delicate bird to cook . it is not something you throw in the oven and forget about, and particularly nowadays when you are getting a free range, there is very little fat in them.

So what I do is use muslin dipped in butter and salt and I wrap the turkey in it, I like to cook it breast side down and then I turn it with a pair of marigold gloves, flip it, turn it, peel off the muslin and brown the breast, this is the best way to keep all the juices from the back and the legs, to fall into the breast. It makes total sense. We do the same when cooking a free range chicken or any bird, any poultry because the fat is in the legs - just like ourselves.

Timing is everything... don't forget to use a food thermometer, says Claire.
Timing is everything... don't forget to use a food thermometer, says Claire.

WHAT TEMPERATURE?

I cook the turkey at 165 degrees, if you calculate it out, until you have it cooked - 20 mins per pound, is the old fashion way of cooking.

What I prefer to do is cook it for an hour and half at 160 degrees and then we turn it up to 170 perhaps for another hour and half, just to brown it.

And also we use a food thermometer and we get the bird to 74/75 degrees.

We take our thermometer test, through the thigh again, right into the most fleshy part, so you have an accurate temperature.

Try not to burst the skin, and therefore leaking all the beautiful juices out when you are doing that thermometer test. The most important part cooking the turkey, or any meat, is to leave it rest.

WHEN IT'S COOKED... LEAVE IT REST

So once you take the turkey out. If you are transferring it to another house, wrap it in tinfoil and then a big bath towel is a great idea to wrap it in - and it just sits there and rests.

If you don’t have the scenario where you don’t have somewhere to rest it that is warm, wrap it in the towel again and ignore it for an hour, or two hours. It will get nicer and nicer.

We never cut our turkey until we are carving it for the table, or carving it for the guests.

Use any juices left over from the turkey to cook up the perfect roasties, says Claire Nash.
Use any juices left over from the turkey to cook up the perfect roasties, says Claire Nash.

AND THE REST...

When we come to the next part of cooking the Christmas dinner, you turn up the oven and that’s how you get all your roasts nice and brown - you use some of the natural juices - we always use butter and then I might add a bit of duck fat, which we have here in the shop, or spices and herbs - to liven up your potatoes.

NASH 19 TREATS AND CHEATS

- We have had for years our treats and cheats list - to help you roll out a very special Christmas dinner experience in your home for the couple of days over Christmas.

We are in the middle of curating this from the gravy, to the butter stuffing, the fresh compote cranberry, pates, the ham glazes  - all the treats and cheats you need to finish off your dinner very nicely. These will be available from around December 8 or 10th.

We also have a nice hamper, the night before Xmas - anybody would be delighted to see you coming in the door with that! It has things like Derek McCarthy Spiced Beef, some pate, some breads, some cheeses, preserves, pickles, lovely things we would have over Xmas, - once again creating that "taste memory". That is what we do at Nash 19.

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