Here's all you need to know about buying, preparing and cooking your Christmas turkey

Here Daphne Roche from O'Sullivans Poultry and Game, at Cork's English Market shares her tips and recipe for a classic roast turkey and traditional breadcrumbs stuffing
Here's all you need to know about buying, preparing and cooking your Christmas turkey

Glenys Landon and Daphne Roche of O’Sullivan's Poultry, English Market.

We continue to share lots of ideas for Christmas Food. Here's a recipe for Classic Roast Turkey and Traditional Breadcrumb Stuff from O'Sullivan's Poultry and Game in Cork's English Market

WHATEVER you decide to cook for your Christmas dinner, make it special, make it local, and make it good.

I have had the privilege to grow up around great food from our farm in Glenville, County Cork where we reared our own free range chickens and turkeys for our stall in Cork’s English Market, where we sell fabulous Irish chicken, wild Irish game, and at Christmas time local free range turkeys from Healy’s farm in .

My name is Daphne Roche, and together with my mother Glenys Landon, and sister, Gwyn Landon, we run O’Sullivan’s Poultry & Game.

It is very much a family run business. Some days you can be lucky enough to find three generations behind the counter!

Christmas dinner varies widely at our house, from duck to pheasant, venison or goose, but a favourite is always the turkey with all the trimmings.

The duo outside O'Sullivan's Poultry.
The duo outside O'Sullivan's Poultry.

When looking for turkey you have two choices, bronze or white? Bronze turkeys are the old-fashioned black coloured bird. Their popularity waned for a few years, but they are seeing a revival of late. They are a little stronger tasting than the more common white turkey.

Whichever you decide to go with, try to get them sourced from a local farmer where they have been given the time to grow and have been outside picking the grass. Ask for a female turkey, you will get a nice plump breast which will be better for cutting.

Turkeys are naturally big birds and are typically starting at about 8 to 10 lbs weight, so for smaller families an option is always to get the butcher to remove the legs. You can freeze them and use them at a later stage. They will make a great curry or stew and most butchers will be happy to remove them for you.

Roasted turkey. Picture: Stock
Roasted turkey. Picture: Stock

ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients

1 free range turkey

100g butter

300ml fresh chicken stock (see recipe below)

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 190C/ fan 170C/ gas 5.
  • Weigh your turkey. If you are stuffing it, you need to have this done first. Calculate your cooking time at 10 minutes per lb plus 90 minutes over.
  • Put a large sheet of extra-wide foil in a large roasting tin, then put the turkey on top. Rub the breast with some butter and season with a little salt and pepper. Pour in the stock and loosely bring up the foil and seal well to make a parcel.
  • Roast in the oven, then, 90 minutes before the end of cooking, open the foil and drain off excess fat from the tin. Leaving the foil open, return the turkey to the oven to brown, basting several times with the juices.
  • To test whether the turkey is cooked, push a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh - the juices should run clear. If they are pinkish, cook for another 15 minutes then test again.
  • Transfer the turkey to a platter, cover with foil, then a couple of tea towels, and allow to rest for up to 30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to settle back into the meat, ensuring the turkey will be juicy, and giving you a free oven to finish of your roast potatoes, potato gratin, roast veg, etc. Space in the oven is a premium on Christmas morning.

Use fresh thyme and parsley in your breadcrumb stuffing. Picture: Stock
Use fresh thyme and parsley in your breadcrumb stuffing. Picture: Stock

TRADITIONAL BREADCRUMB STUFFING

Ingredients

600g breadcrumbs

200g butter

200g onion, diced

20g fresh parsley, chopped

5g fresh thyme, chopped

5g fresh sage, chopped

Method:

  • Place 20g of butter in a frying pan. Allow it to melt over a medium heat then throw in the onion to soften.
  • Add in the remainder of the butter to melt.
  • Meanwhile put the breadcrumbs and all the herbs in a large bowl and mix.
  • Once the butter has melted pour it over the stuffing and mix it.
  • Salt to taste. It might not need it, depending on the amount already in the butter and the breadcrumbs.
  • You can heat this stuffing for 20 minutes in the oven while the turkey rests if you didn’t want to stuff the turkey cavity or neck prior to cooking.

Chicken stock. Picture: Stock
Chicken stock. Picture: Stock

FRESH HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK

Because we do all our own filleting in store, we always have bones available for making your own chicken stock, all we ask in return is a 50c donation to Marymount Hospice. We raise around €1,000 every year from these donations.

At home we make a very simple chicken stock with nothing more than the bones and water. You can use this then for any sauce you wish to make.

Put 1kg of bones in a large pot and cover with 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for three hours, skimming when needed.

When finished cooking, pass your stock through a sieve into a container. Discard the bones.

This stock will keep for one week in the fridge and for three months in the freezer.

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