A butterflied turkey may be the solution this Christmas

Don’t worry if the bird you ordered is now too big for your smaller family gathering

Bon appetit: just one butterflied turkey breast should feed four to six people, depending how large the breast is and what else you are serving with it. Photograph: iStock

Bon appetit: just one butterflied turkey breast should feed four to six people, depending how large the breast is and what else you are serving with it. Photograph: iStock

 

For many of us, Christmas is one of the few times we cook for a large group of people. Of course, this year that group will most likely be smaller, but it may still be a few friends or family members gathering together.

I’ve read a little recently regarding people’s anxiety given the fact that the turkey they ordered may now be too big for the amount of people they are expecting. To be honest, this is nothing to worry about. You can do one of two things: cook the turkey whole and then use the leftovers in the few days following Christmas, or get your butcher to break down the turkey for you and vacuum pack the legs. In this way you can cook the crown on Christmas Day and freeze the legs for a later date. The vacuum packing is important so the legs don’t suffer freezer burn.

If you’re cooking the crown without the legs, just remember it won’t take as long. If you do only one thing this Christmas, remember to buy a meat thermometer. This takes all the anxiety out of knowing when the bird is cooked. I always remove the turkey at 72 degrees Celsius and then allow it to rest before carving. You need to remember the temperature will continue to rise by a few degrees when the turkey comes out of the oven.

How to cook butterflied turkey

If a crown is too much, get the butcher to remove the two breasts from the bone. Ask them to vacuum pack one breast and butterfly the other. One butterflied turkey breast should feed four to six people, depending how large the breast is and your other accompaniments.

As the breast is really lean, remember to smoother it in your favourite fat in order to ensure it is nice and moist. Catherine Fluvio has a beautiful stuffing recipes for a butterflied leg on the BBC Food website. Her stuffing includes apricots and chestnut mushrooms. I like to add sausage meat, apple and chestnut into mine. The base of onions, butter, breadcrumbs and sage will always remain the same. 

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