Let’s Talk Turkey

By Joe McKenna

It’s Christmas, you’ve been running around like a nut job getting presents, decorations, crackers, socks, mistletoe and eggnog. Your Christmas is looking good, you’re looking forward to it already, but there’s still one thing you haven’t dealt with…….the turkey.

“The first question people ask about is weight,” Danny O’Toole of Clynes butchers in Ringsend told NewsFour. “But to be honest, since the recession hit there’s a lot of people just opting to buy the breast, both to save waste and money. But whether you go for a full turkey or just the crown, it’s really all about how you store and cook it.”
Danny knows a thing or two about turkeys. He was, after all, the man who re-introduced bronze turkeys to Ireland in 1974. Before that no one could get their hands on the most sought after turkey in the world.
“Don’t go for a frozen turkey, although they are the cheapest you lose a lot of juice in the defrosting. Most people will buy white turkey, but the bronze turkey is the original of the species and the white turkeys are actually hybrids. In my opinion the bronze turkey is more flavoursome but it’s also the most expensive.”

Your fridge is packed full of goodies and you have, as usual, no room for the turkey. If you leave it out the cat will eat it or the baby will stuff it full of Lego. Where do you keep this thing?
“What you do is you get yourself a box, seal it up at the bottom with plastic bags and dump ice in it. Wrap the Turkey, still in the bag, with tinfoil and place it in the box. Put some more ice on top of that and pack the empty space with newspaper and seal the box. Essentially you’re creating a mini cold room and your Turkey will be good for three days in there. Take it out 3 hours before you cook it then place it in the hot oven.”

So, Christmas Day arrives, you turn the oven on and realise that you have no idea how to cook the turkey. The last thing you cooked in there was oven chips, what are you going to do?
“The rule of thumb was always 20 minutes to the pound and 20 over in a hot conventional oven running 200 degrees, that’s including the weight of the stuffing. But with so many different types of ovens now I would advise people to check what’s best for theirs. Better still I would advise everyone to get an oven thermometer, they’re quite cheap but they’re a better indication of the heat than dials are. Most ovens will run 10-20 degrees under. Remember to always stick a knife between the thigh and the breast and if the juices run clear it’s done, it the juice is pink it needs more time. When it’s done, leave it to sit for an hour to secure the juices inside so they don’t spill out when you carve.”

So now you’re half asleep on the sofa and you can just about make out Indiana Jones on the TV. You’re busted and there’s a mess to clean up and loads of turkey leftovers. What’s your move?
“After you’ve had enough sandwiches I would recommend a turkey hot pot or curry but I would also advise people to boil the carcass for stock. You can make great gravy with it. Just boil it down and drain it off.”
Expert advice from a man who knows. Now all have to do is gobble gobble gobble.