Christmas Turkey Tips & Wine Pairing
There is nothing that says Christmas more than the traditional Christmas Turkey at the table. There is also nothing more intimidating Christmas morning than staring at a naked turkey, especially if it’s your first time hosting the family Christmas feast. We are here to help you cook a showstopper centrepiece Christmas Turkey and provide you with bonus wine pairing selections that will save your bacon.
Speaking of bacon, did you know that streaky bacon-wrapped turkey creates a barrier of salt, fat, and moisture keeping a turkey succulent? And, who doesn’t want their turkey seasoned in smokey goodness? Here are some more tips for your Christmas Turkey.
Local Irish Free Range is best. A Free Range Turkey reared naturally and allowed to roam freely on the lush pastures of grass and wild seeds rewards you greatly with enhanced flavour. Turkeys that grow naturally allow a turkey to develop a more intense flavour.
As a general rule, 1 1/2 pounds of uncooked turkey per person is adequate and should leave you with extra so you can enjoy leftovers (sandwiches with cranberry and stuffing, fricassee, cacciatore, enchiladas…so many possibilities).
Get your turkey out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
Use kitchen string to tie drumsticks loosely. Tying them too tightly can prevent thighs from cooking evenly.
To help turkey brown evenly; rub with olive oil or melted clarified butter. Sprinkle turkey with salt (unless brined) to help crisp skin (or give the bacon-wrapped method a go).
Some chefs think stuffing is evil. Stuffing is porous so it may cause you to overcook a turkey. Some also fear stuffing could contain salmonella bacteria if the turkey is not cooked to a minimum of 170 degrees F to be safe. A good resolution is to prepare the dressing separately (technically its dressing before its stuffing) and stuffing the turkey after the fact allowing it to soak up the juicy goodness as the bird rests. If you’re from the tried and tested traditional school of stuffing a turkey – stuff only the neck cavity, rather than the body to ensure the turkey cooks all the way through. Fill the body with fresh herbs, slices of orange or onion, so flavours diffuse into the meat while cooking. The aromatics alone will swoon your guests.
A good estimate is to cook the turkey for approximately 35 – 40 minutes per kg at 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
Invest in a good meat thermometer (not an instant read thermometer). Probe into the deepest part of the thigh (careful not to hit bone). When the thigh temperature reads around 170 F, you can remove the turkey from the oven.
Don’t carve right into their turkey as soon as it out of the oven! Let the bird rest. You don’t want all the turkey’s juices to gush all over the cutting board. Keep the juices in by waiting at least 30 minutes before carving into your turkey.
Christmas Turkey Wine Pairing
Contrary to popular belief, turkey pairs wonderfully with reds — just keep them on the lighter side. If your preference is red, a stellar choice is Rondan Reserva. This Rioja is a turkey-friendly stunner. It is both earthy and fruity. The plum and berry flavours of the Tempranillo comes with spices and herbs and fresh and food-friendly acidity. The wine is big but the tannin is not grippy.
Some experts have weighed in and said that a White Burgundy is the perfect Christmas Turkey match – a refreshing lift to what is an incredibly rich meal. Domaine Emilian-Gillet is a stellar choice for that special occasion white and is at the top of this list. It is a full-bodied, buttery Chardonnay perfectly balanced by its refreshing acidity. You will see both of these wines on many a Wines Direct staff table this Christmas.