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How to cook the perfect turkey and other festive tips

PUBLISHED: 14:53 21 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:18 20 February 2013

How to cook the perfect turkey and other festive tips

How to cook the perfect turkey and other festive tips

How should you cook turkey for maximum flavour? What are the best alternative cuts of meat for the Christmas table? Our butchery experts offer their advice

How should you cook turkey for maximum flavour? What are the best alternative cuts of meat for the Christmas table? Our butchery experts offer their advice




George Debman says:




How best to cook your Christmas turkey? Give us a top tip please.
Use a fresh turkey. Your butcher will be able to suggest the right weight for the number of people you are serving. Rinse turkey inside and out, place in a roasting tin and put smoked streaky bacon over the breast, cover with foil and put in the oven last thing at night on a low light and allow to cook overnight. In the morning, check that it is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer, if the juices run clear it is cooked. The foil can be removed for the last 20 minutes to brown the skin.


Whats the secret to making really flavoursome gravy?
Use the juices of the bird and strain off some liquid from cooking the vegetables and add a stock cube and thicken if necessary with Bisto.


When its not turkey, what other meats are good for a festive celebration?
People often buy large joints of roasting beef such as topside, sirloin and rib of beef for the main meal, along with a piece of gammon to cook or cooked ham. I personally enjoy a large cockerel reared specially for Christmas, which can only be found at specialist butchers.


What is your favourite turkey stuffing?
An American turkey stuffing that my sister uses for our traditional family gathering and is found in a Delia Smith recipe book.


In these straitened times, what is a really good economical alternative for a Christmas meal? Perhaps a not always recognised cut of meat that represents really good value.
Pork without a doubt is a really good economical alternative, especially shoulder of pork, and we have found people quite surprised at the cost. People have forgotten what it tastes like and are surprised at the taste as we only sell female pork, which is sweeter.


Christmas isnt always about big gatherings. What meat would you suggest for a small gathering of people, perhaps just a couple?
In recent years that people have turned to game when catering for two as pheasant, partridge and venison has been really economical. People always think that catering for two is something that their local butcher is not geared up for, however any local butcher worth his salt would cut joints to suit any pocket from small joints of beef through to small boneless turkey breasts. In fact, it is important to me that people should not be embarrassed in asking for a small joint, as I will be in that situation one day and we go that extra mile to cater for this sort of customer.


Why should people use their local butcher rather than the supermarkets?
Many people go back to their local butcher at Christmas as they want something special. In my shop we pride ourselves on being the last remaining traditional butcher left in Ipswich which buys its animals live and uses a small craft abbattoir, ensuring a premium product. All beef sold during Christmas week has been hung for a minimum of four weeks. Every effort is made to ensure everything sold is spot on as Christmas dinner is the most important meal of the year and we want people to return to a shop that cares about what it sells, where it comes from and how it is handled.


George Debman is a butcher of many years standing and a prime mover in the butchery trade. His business, George Debman Family Butchers, can be found at 101 Cliff Lane, Ipswich
Tel: 01473 251686




Gerard King says:




How best to cook your Christmas turkey? Give us a top tip please.
Put some herby butter between skin and breast meat, then cook your bird upside down for the first hour or so before turning over for the remainder of the time. Rest the bird (in a nice silver blanket) for a good 40 minutes or so after cooking.

Whats the secret to making really flavoursome gravy?
Use Chefs Own Jus from the Suffolk Food Hall as the base for your gravy. This jus is an extremely thick gravy stock made from roasted bones, reduced in a marmite (a metal stock pot, not a brand name) for days.

When its not turkey, what other meats are good for a festive celebration?
Its got to be local and wild; roast saddle of venison on the bone with roasted beetroot. Order early as some deer may be busy around Christmas!

What is your favourite turkey stuffing?
Simple (Blythburgh Free-Range) sausage meat with chestnuts. Im not keen on fruity stuffing.

In these straitened times, what is a really good economical alternative for a Christmas meal? Perhaps a not always recognised cut of meat that represents really good value.
Pork; a slow roasted shoulder on the bone, feeds lots of people, less panic about timings and wont cost a fortune.

Christmas isnt always about big gatherings. What meat would you suggest for a small gathering of people, perhaps just a couple?
Rack of lamb, or perhaps a couple of duck breasts with a few spuds and a salad.

Why should people use their local butcher rather than the supermarkets?
Your local butcher will give you meat as it should be.



Gerard King runs the award-winning Broxtead Butchery at Suffolk Food Hall, Wherstead, Ipswich
Tel: 01473 786610

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