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Tips for cooking the perfect turkey

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With Thanksgiving and even Christmas fast approaching, thoughts may be turning to that tricky customer, turkey.

Turkey is renowned for being difficult to get right; it’s not the most tasty of birds, so requires the cook to add a bit of extra flavour oomph and it’s all too easy for the breasts to dry out, as you ensure that the legs are cooked though.

Carl Moore, the executive chef at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, is no stranger to roasting a turkey or two; on Friday 23rd he will be overseeing a team of chefs cooking up a storm in preparation for the Holiday Inn’s traditional Thanksgiving brunch. Handily, he has agreed to share his top tips for cooking the perfect turkey with us.

Chef Carl Moore’s advice for getting the perfect flavour and texture from your turkey:

1)Thawing a frozen turkey requires patience. The safest method is to thaw turkey in the fridge. Be sure to plan ahead; it takes approximately 2-3 days to fully defrost a deep frozen bird.

2)For crisp skin, rub the bird all over with a little sea salt the night before you cook it.

3)Cooking times will differ depending on whether your turkey was purchased fresh or frozen. Aim to cook the turkey for 20 minutes per 500g at 175C. Check the legs to see if the bird is cooked by piercing the skin with a knife right to the bone; if the juices run bloody, then it needs longer, if the juices run clear then it’s done. And if the juices don't run, then it’s probably over done. If you have a food thermometer ensure the internal temperature reads 72 degrees or above.

4)A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic root vegetables (mirepoix — carrots, celery, onion and leek, with or without garlic). For stuffing lovers, cook the seasoning in a dish on the side (see my stuffing recipe below).

5)Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with oil (not olive) and season with sea salt and medium ground pepper. You can also use herbs like thyme, rosemary and marjoram in the cavity or under the skin. With clean hands, cut 150g of butter into cubes and then stuff them under the skin of the turkey; space them evenly apart and tightly cover the breast with foil to prevent over-browning. About 45 minutes before the turkey is ready, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

6)Let the turkey rest before carving; cover with foil and leave for up 20-40 mins. Remember you can always place the turkey on a bed of roughly chopped vegetables (mirepoix as above) called a “trivet”, along with the giblets. This helps prevent the bird from sticking, but most importantly lets the juices caramelize in the tray, so when the turkey is resting you can make gravy.

Carl Moore’s stuffing seasoning:

1 medium onion, roughly chopped 2-3 sprigs thyme small handful semi-dried apricots, chopped 200g chestnuts, peeled 1/3 loaf old white bread (with or without crust) half a pint milk 2 eggs 200g turkey sausages

1. Sauté the onion with the thyme and garlic in a little butter and oil over a medium heat, until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. 2. Whisk the the milk and eggs together in a bowl, then add the bread and leave to soak 3. Crumble the chestnuts into pieces (not too small) and quickly sauté in a little butter and oil, along with the apricots. 4. Peel the skins from the sausages. When the ingredients have cooled enough, mix everything together. Try not to over mix- it should be still moist. 5. Place in buttered dish and bake for 35 min at around 165C. 6. Eat.

For more information about the Holiday Inn’s family friendly Thanksgiving brunch, which includes turkey and trimmings, a BBQ and seafood station, pumpkin pie and a special Kids Corner call 02 657 4856 or email fnb.hiabudhabi@ihg.com.