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Talking turkey

 

If you're perplexed by turkey weights, cooking times and how to get it right, read Delia's foolproof advice!

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. 

Turkey Celebration MenuA 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) New York dressed weight. But below you’ll find cooking times for varying sizes of turkey. 

It might be helpful for beginners if I gave you an account of the exact timings of a recent turkey of mine. The turkey (14 lb/6.5 kg oven-ready weight) went into the oven, pre-heated to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), at 8.15am. The heat was lowered to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) at 8.55am. The foil came off and the heat was turned up to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) at 12.30pm. Then, with lots of basting, it was cooked by 1.15pm and 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).

To tell if the turkey is cooked, 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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