Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 4


After a week of snow and freezing temperatures, Christmas day promised to be dry, sunny and very cold. And that it was. The temperature fell to minus ten degrees C overnight and peaked at an invigorating minus four sometime during the daylight hours.

We planned to have our Christmas dinner at around 6pm, so the cooking was done in the afternoon. I was slightly anxious as I wasn't sure how to compensate for the extreme cold (no insulation in a Weber!). To avoid any fire starting delays I deployed the Weber Chimney Starter and loaded it to the top with good quality, dry lumpwood charcoal that I had been storing in the house. I had a total of about 4kg and was starting to worry whether it would be enough as it was seriously cold outside.

We went to a Christmas service in the morning, and then by the time we had done a round of present opening and had a bit of lunch, I lit the chimney starter at about 1:15pm. We had a 8.5kg (17 pound) turkey plus a layer of stuffing between the breast and skin. I'd looked up the cooking time for the bird weight at 3hrs 10mins plus a bit extra for the cold weather (I guessed a mere 10 minutes). As the stuffing is to protect the breast, it doesn't affect the cooking time of the thigh so I made no further adjustments.

The cooking and checking timetable worked out something like this:

13:15 hrs - Lit chimney starter
13:40 hrs - Turkey in Weber
14:00 hrs - Checked turkey/fire and took photo (top). Sizzling nice and gently, skin starting to brown, anxiety decreasing
15:05 hrs - Fire a bit low, so added a bit of charcoal to both fires
15:50 hrs - Checked, all ok
16:30 hrs - Added a bit more fuel (total fuel used approx 3-3.5kg)
17:00 hrs - Removed turkey and covered with foil (total cooking time 3 hrs 20 mins)

I let the turkey rest for about 45 minutes before removing an entire breast with its stuffing layer. This was enough to feed six hearty appetites and was on the table at 6pm as planned. Our vegetarian daughter had all the trimmings served with a vegetable stock and garlic gravy I made separately.

I served the turkey with the traditional accompaniments of stuffing, giblet gravy, pigs in blankets, roasted potatoes and parsnips, steamed carrots, brussel sprouts and home made bread sauce.

This left us with an entire breast (for turkey pie which we had yesterday), and the legs, thighs and wings for turkey lasagne. The carcass is currently simmering away in the kitchen and will provide us with some good stock for the lasagne and what's left will go in the freezer for soups, sauces and gravies.

For the original post have a look at Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber where you will find loads more detail, photos and links to other recipes.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 3


To complement my original article Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber and the recently posted photo gallery from our 2009 Christmas turkey, this is an ideal stuffing to layer between the breast and the skin. Don't worry if you make too much, it can be rolled into little balls and baked separately.

You can make the stuffing and stuff the turkey on Christmas eve and leave it in the fridge for cooking the next day. This really takes the sting out of kitchen duties when the kids are all desperate to sit around and open their presents.

I use a whole tube of good quality sausage meat, with about the same volume of fresh breadcrumbs (made in the food processor). then add the juice and grated rind of a whole lemon and lime, and plenty of seasoning. The stuffing just needs to be mixed well before working it between the skin and the breast. The stuffing layer can be at least an inch thick. It protects the breast from drying out beautifully and is a treat in itself.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas Turkey on the Weber - Chapter 2


For the full story, method and cooking times, have a look at my original article, Perfect Christmas Turkey on the Weber. These photos are from our 2009 Christmas turkey experience at home in Oxfordshire (another 20 pounder) and will hopefully help to entice you further towards striking that match!

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