2013 Christmas dinner ideas!

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by mv f4 owner, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. mv f4 owner

    mv f4 owner

    Likes Received:
    At home cook
    Dear All,I have just said hello in the newbie section and would now very greatly appreciate some help and thoughts on an inquiry regarding my 2013 Christmas dinner.I may have to add additional questions to this thread as I go but intend first of all to ask thoughts on the main course.I intend cooking for around 6-8 people during Boxing Day and therefore wish to purchase a Turkey. I intend showcasing my cooking skills (which are pretty good) and want to create an impression to my guests. I therefore wish to flash out a bit and purchase a bird that is rich in flavour and creates a bit of a 'wow'. Please can users assist me with the following:- 1. What size turkey would they recommend for 6-8 people. If the taste is better with a larger than required turkey then I don't mind buying a bigger one. I do want an impressive looking Turkey and not something that is simply adequate for 6-8 people. 2. Would users be able to tell me what the internal temperature of the turkey will when cooked? I will be using a thermometer and this information will be of great value to me to ensure it is cooked but not overdone.3. I would appreciate recommendations on an established perhaps 'award winning' supplier (or if not a turkey 'breed') which will give me a beautiful taste that creates an inpression. I am thinking perhaps a free range organic norfolk black may fit the bill?? Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you. Kind Regards MV
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Likes Received:
    I Just Like Food
  3. koukouvagia


    Likes Received:
    Home Cook
    There's plenty of time between now and then to really practice this. Visit local farms and try cooking a turkey every week or so until you find the bird that you like best. What makes a meal impressive is the planning and experience that goes into it.
  4. kaneohegirlinaz


    Likes Received:
    I Just Like Food
    HERE HERE!  I agree! (along with a dash of confidence always helps too)
  5. boar_d_laze


    Likes Received:
    Cook At Home
    The place to start is with the bird.  Ideally, you want something locally raised with appropriate feed in an area large enough for it to walk around, freshly slaughtered and never frozen. "Organic" and "free-range" are not guarantees, but "terms of art" which frequently mean a lot less than meets the eye.

    Larger birds are not necessarily better than smaller, toms are not necessarily better than hens.  A lot depends on the specific breed of turkey -- and when you're looking at high end turkeys you're frequently looking at "heirloom breeds," and what I don't know about most heirloom breeds could fill a book. 

    Moral of the story:  Find a good supplier.  That may take some research, but persevere -- they're out there.  You'll want to get your order in early.  Now is not too soon.  

    If something better comes along, you can always cancel.

    There are "almost as good," and significantly less expensive alternatives.  For instance, we find that the kosher birds Trader Joe's (SoCal) sells are very good.  But if you really want maximum quality at a damn the costs price -- you want the finest.

    The correct internal temperature ranges for turkey are 155-160F at the breast, and 165-170F at the thigh.  The USDA recommendations are about 10F higher, but the USDA assumes you're using a poor quality bird, slaughtered in a septic environment, improperly stored, and that you haven't read your thermometer correctly. 

    Roasting turkey is roasting turkey, pretty much.  There are certain basics like "trussing," putting aromatics (and citrus!) in the cavity, not overcooking, brining (or using a kosher bird) etc., which are "Turkey 101" and guarantee a good bird as long as it was a good bird to begin with.

    More simply -- as with any cooking, the secret to greatness is to buy good ingredients and don't screw them up.

    Of course there are variations.  One, very luxurious, is forcing thin slices of fresh black truffle (along with plenty of butter) under the turkey skin before roasting and serving the turkey with an appropriate truffle based sauce, such as Perigeaux.  Nothing succeeds like excess. 

    Going back to basics:  With a lot of mickey-mousing it's possible to cook the stuffing (or at least some of the stuffing) in the cavity without screwing up the roast.  Good for the stuffing, but complicated for the cook -- and there are simpler, just as good ways of cooking the dressing. 

    The rules for buying size are 1-1/4lb per person for large turkeys, and 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 lb per person for smaller birds.  A 10-12lb bird is probably adequate for your group, but figure 14-16lb minimum to be on the safe side.  If I were cooking a Christmas dinner for 8, I'd cook two 14-16 pounders to ensure that everyone went home with abundant leftovers, and that we got to keep at least half a turkey for ourselves. 

    When it comes to holiday cooking, the most precious resource is kitchen and oven space.  We have more space than most to cook our turkeys because we cook them outdoors.

    We prefer to smoke our turkeys -- usually finishing them with a maple / ginger / orange glaze.

    If you have a smoker, or have access to one, and are interesting in smoking your own, I'll be happy to help you with whatever general and turkey-specific advice you need.  Another outdoor method, somewhat faster, with more grill and less smoke flavor, is to "spatchcock" and "hot smoke" in covered grill -- gas or charcoal.  It's a wonderful method.  Of course if you live somewhere cold, cooking outdoors might not be possible.  Your use of "Boxing Day" doesn't promise warm winters.

  6. suki1964


    Likes Received:
    As a home cook of turkey Christmas dinner I buy a free range Norfolk bronze. That's obviously a British breed but its one of the best freely available in upmarket butchers and stores

    I also only buy a small bird, no more then 5 kg

    Cooking a turkey is no more scientific then cooking a big chicken and really doesn't need hours in the oven. I coat the bird in butter below the skin and then cover in bacon to protect the breast.

    What makes my dinner so good is the time and care with veggies and sides

    I make at least two stuffings, one plain chestnut, another fruity, apricots usually. I do wee sausages wrapped in bacon. Roast potatoes in goose fat, carrot batons coated in butter and honey. Chestnuts with pancetta and chestnuts. And here in N.ireland you have to serve gammon, boiled till cooked then finished in the oven with a honey and mustard glaze

    With a turkey and a gammon there's more then enough to feed 8 people over two days. I personally think that with so many veggies ( add to the list cauliflower cheese and peas and carrot and parsnip mash) a slice of each is enough