STORE Street Exchange has created a reputation for its rotisserie chicken and now its turning its attention to Christmas dinner. TOM asked head chef Stuart Fox to share his Top 10 Turkey Tips for foolproof festive fowl on the big day.
Stuart's here on camera, spreading the word in the kitchens of the acclaimed new restaurant inside the Doubletree by Hilton and it you want to print out his essential Perfect Christmas Roast checklist…
1 Don’t forget to delegate get the family involved and make it fun, I always get my children to prep the vegetables and peel the potatoes.
2 Always start early and get the bigger jobs out of the way first – like the stuffing! My family favourite has always been Apricot, Chestnut & Sage – I have shared my recipe below.
3 Always use fresh turkey, free range if you can, as you will get a much better result after cooking with meat that’s tender and full of flavour.
4 Where possible, get it from a reputable butcher, as well as being better quality, they will help source the right size for you. Typically a 3.5kg bird will serve 7-8 guests.
5 I usually remove the legs from the turkey and then bone and roll them, something your butcher will be happy to do for you
6 A 3.5kg fresh turkey will take around 2 hours 15 minutes to cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C. Always season well before roasting and ensure it doesn’t go into the oven straight from the fridge.
7 If you are cooking for smaller numbers and don’t need a large turkey, I would suggest marinating overnight in a simple brine solution to keep it moist while roasting.
8 I rub softened butter under the skin and all over the turkey and then lay a few pieces of pancetta on it for extra flavour.
9 The best way to tell if your turkey is cooked is by using a digital cooking thermometer. When cooked, turkey thighs should read 80C, breasts 75C. Always double-check by sticking the probe in several different spots within the thigh or breast, to find the lowest reading. If returning to the oven, allow 10-15 minutes, then test again until the correct temperature is reached.
10 Without a thermometer, the classic way to test is to push a spoon under the turkey leg so that it pierces the skin (or use a skewer), and inspect the juices that collect in the spoon. The juices should be pale gold and clear; if there are traces of blood, return to the oven as above.
Of course, you could let a professional kitchen take the strain!
For those who prefer to save on the washing up and general kitchen toil involved, Store Street at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel are also serving up a festive feast on Christmas Day itself.
This five-course menu will be served from 12pm on December 25 and includes welcome fizz, a pear granita palate cleanser between courses, roast turkey, as well as teas, coffees and all-butter mince pies after dessert. Full menu details here.
Store Street Craft Bar and Store Street Exchange, Doubletree by Hilton, 1 Auburn Street, Manchester M1 3DG.
Stuart’s brine solution
1 lemon, zest only; 3 sprigs of thyme; 3 bay leaves; sprinkle of coriander seeds; 5 black peppercorns; 200g salt; 2 litres water.
Bring the water and aromatics to the boil. Remove and set aside until cold enough to refrigerate. Once cold the turkey can then be submerged in the brine. I work on around 6-8 hours per kilo of meat.
Stuart’s apricot, chestnut and sage stuffing (serves 6-8)
500g pork mince; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 1 large Braeburn apple grated; 6 dried apricots (about 50g) chopped; 45g chestnuts, roughly chopped; finely grated zest of 1 lemon; small bunch offresh flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped; olive oil, to drizzle; large bunch of sage leaves; 2 fresh merguez or chorizo sausages.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Put the pork mince into a large bowl and season. Grate the apple into the bowl, avoiding the core. Add the apricots, chestnuts, lemon zest and chopped parsley, and mix well.
Lay a large sheet of foil on a surface and oil with a drizzle of olive oil. Arrange the sage leaves on the foil, overlapping them in two rows to form a large rectangle, the length of the two sausages placed end to end. Sprinkle with a little seasoning
Spread half of the pork stuffing mixture in the middle, along the length of the sage leaves, then run your finger down the centre of the stuffing to create a hollow for the sausages. Lay the sausages in the hollow and cover with the remaining stuffing mixture.
Bring up the foil and envelop the stuffing, twisting the ends to seal. Holding both ends, roll the stuffing in the foil to make it tight so it stays moist when cooking. Refrigerate at this stage if making a day ahead.
Put the stuffing parcel into a baking dish and cook for about 40 minutes. To check if it is cooked, insert a skewer into the middle for 10 seconds – it should feel piping hot against your wrist. Leave to rest for about 15 minutes before slicing to serve.