How to Roast a Turkey
It's the main event, and the star of the show is the roast turkey. If it's your first time or you find the timings confusing, print off Delia's guide below, keep it to hand for reference, and you will be fine on the big day.
Now, thankfully, we can again buy turkeys with that old-fashioned, slightly gamey flavour. They are called Bronze turkeys and are supremely good. Here I’ve set out general timings for my method of cooking different-sized turkeys. Do remember that it is important for the turkey to be at room temperature before it goes into the oven.
The method. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
Prepare the turkey using your chosen stuffing. Loosen the skin with your hands and pack the sutffing into the neck end, pushing it up between the flesh and the skin towards the breast (not too tightly, because it will expand during cooking).
Press it in gently to make a nicely rounded end, then tuck the neck flap under the bird's back and secure with small skewer or some cocktail sticks.
Don't expect to get all the stuffing in this end, put the rest into the body cavity.
Now, arrange two large sheets of foil across your roasting tin, one widthways and the other lengthways (no need to butter them). Lay the turkey on its back in the centre, then rub it generously all over with the butter, making sure the thigh bones are particularly well covered.
Next season the bird all over and lay the bacon over the breast with the rashers overlapping each other. I always put some over the legs as well.
Now wrap the turkey loosely in the foil. The parcel must be firmly sealed but roomy enough to provide an air space around most of the upper part of the bird. So bring one piece of foil up and fold both ends over to make a pleat along the length of the breastbone,
The bring the other piece up at both ends and crimp and fold to make a neat parcel.
A good-sized turkey for the average family is 12-14 lb (5.4-6.5 kg). This is oven-ready weight – which is equivalent to 14-16 lb (6.5-7.5 kg) which will serve eight people, with plenty left over. Below you’ll find cooking times for varying sizes of turkey.
It might be helpful if I gave you an account of the exact timings to serve at 2pm. If you plan to eat half an hour earlier or later, simply add or subtract 30 minutes to or from my timings.
8.15 am. The turkey (14 lb/6.5 kg oven-ready weight) goes into the oven, pre-heated to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C)
8.55am. The heat is lowered to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C)
12.30pm The foil cames off and the heat is turned up to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C)
1.15pm. With lots of basting, it is cooked to be served by 2pm.
To roast turkey
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).
For an 8-10 lb (3.5-4.5 kg) turkey:
Cook for 30 minutes then reduce the temperature to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and cook for a further 2½-3 hours. Then give it a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
For a 12-14 lb (5.5-6.5 kg) turkey:
Cook for 40 minutes then reduce the temperature to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and cook for a further 3-3½ hours. Then give it a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
For a 15-20 lb (6.75-9 kg) turkey:
Cook for 45 minutes then reduce the temperature to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) and cook for a further 4-5 hours. Then give it a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
Please bear in mind that ovens and turkeys themselves vary and the only way to tell if the turkey is cooked, is to pierce the thickest part of the leg with a skewer then press the skewer against the leg to see if the juices run clear without any trace of pink – if the juices are clear, the turkey is cooked.
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