I was one of the lucky bloggers to be invited by BritMums and Lean on Turkey to attend Marco Pierre White’s Restaurant ‘Marco’ last week, based at the Shed End of Chelsea Football Ground. This was all about preparing the perfect Turkey and, whilst I was aware September is rather early, I am never one to pass up Christmas dinner – whatever time of the year it might be!
Upon arrival I was met with lots of bloggers faces – some familiar, some new (despite the fact that we have met over the bloggosphere!). We were served coffee and pastries whilst we sat, however, when the man himself made an appearance we all gave him our full attention. Marco Pierre White has a commanding presence which I can’t quite put my finger on except to say that he talks – you listen!
We were split into groups and, being in the second, it gave me a chance to catch up with Emma from Crazy With Twins, Helen from KiddyCharts and Marianne from Mari’s World as well as meet Nadine from JuggleMum and of course chat to Jennifer and Susanna from BritMums. Upon arrival in the kitchen, my immediate impression was how small it was. I don’t know why but I always imagined the top chefs have the biggest spaces and little was I to know that we were going to invited in twice. The first visit into the kitchen was Marco demonstrating to us how to prepare the turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and stuffing. The second visit was showing us how to carve and serve everything. I learnt so many great tips and I would like to share some of them here with you.
- It is best to prepare and cook the turkey in separate sections. It cooks quicker and with less fuss. Remove the wings, legs and turkey carcass. Marco used a very large chopper – I must get me one of those! 😉 – to remove the limbs and, to remove the carcass, turn the bird so it is vertical, grip the top tightly and slice down the right and left side of the back bone. Prise the back down so it is flat and, using a knife, cut across the top of the back to remove it completely, leaving the crown of the turkey. You could always ask your friendly local butcher to do all this for you.
- Before cooking the turkey fill the crown and thigh joints with the stuffing. It keeps the moisture and flavour in the meat as well as protecting it.
- The wings, legs and carcass can be chopped into small pieces and placed in the bottom of two roasting trays along with a knob of butter. This allows the juices to collect in the tin which you can then use to make the gravy.
- Cover the crown and thigh joins in butter or sunflower oil and season with salt
- The crown can be placed in one of the roasting trays on top of the bones and the thighs in the other.
- For a 10lb turkey, the crown will take around 1 hour and 30 minutes and the thighs will be 55 minutes at 180ºC (160ºC for a fan oven)
- The best way to check that the turkey is cooked is to use a meat probe. If the turkey cooks too slowly then it will dry out. Too quickly and it won’t be cooked all the way through. The probe should go into the thickest part of the meat to ensure you are completely accurate with your reading. When the breast is at 66ºC and the thigh reaches 72ºC then it is cooked to perfection and will be succulent and moist.
- The first thing to do once the turkey is removed from the oven? Wait!
- Make sure to use a good quality, sharp carving knife
- Be confident!
- To remove the stuffing from the crown, carefully hold the stuffing with your finger tips and cut around it gently, removing it from the bird
- Slice the turkey breast by cutting it downwards and moving the knife lengthways in long diagonal strokes
- Make sure to use the full length of the knife in long, smooth motions to stop the meat breaking into pieces
We were also shown how to prepare cranberry sauce, gravy and the stuffing. I was surprised to learn that the best chefs use Paxo and was really pleased to learn that you can combine this with sausage meat – I always wondered why it tasted so good. Once the turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce was all ready, we were each handed a knife and fork and a plate of the wonderful meal to enjoy (some people got through theirs before they even left the kitchen!) so I went and sat with Emma and Mari to pull a cracker (no, not Marco!), eat our food and drink our wine. We were also given a gift and a voucher each, served a bowl of sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream and finally had a photo opportunity with Mr White himself. That Christmas card is going to make an appearance on the shelf every year from now on! 😉 And if you fancy a recipe for left-over turkey then there is my turkey and sweet potato curry.