How’s it going this Christmas morning?! Hopefully, everyone got what they wanted from the man in the red suit. For those with small children, you’re probably drowning under a sea of torn up wrapping paper as we speak. What a time of year for the smallies – a magical day when everything they think they ever wanted has arrived! Now time to talk turkey! Is yours ready for the oven? If not, these few tips might help:

Only stuff the neck end of the bird – this allows heat to come up through the cavity. You can pop a halved onion and some fresh herb sprigs in the cavity to flavour the juices for the gravy. Calculate your cooking time from the weight of the bird when stuffed.

Rub the breast and legs well with softened butter to ensure a moist finish to the meat. Some people like to criss cross the breasts with streaky bacon also, to add extra fat and flavour. Foil helps to keep moisture in, but lengthens cooking time (allow a bit extra if using foil)  and needs to be removed about 30 minutes before the end of cooking to brown the skin of the breast.

Any remaining stuffing not used in the bird can be rolled into balls to bake separately

For bacon rolls, remove the rind from streaky bacon rashers and stretch the rashers with the back of a knife. Roll tightly along the length and secure with cocktail sticks. Grill or oven bake till crisp. Alternatively, you can wrap streaky bacon around cocktail chipolatas and bake these in the oven.

If your turkey has giblets, use these to make a stock for the gravy. Rinse well, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Add half an onion, some fresh thyme and parsley sprigs and black peppercorns and bring to bubbling. Cover and simmer for an hour. Strain and reserve the liquid, to add to the juices in the roasting tray when the bird is cooked. A splash of red wine or port adds lovely richness to the gravy. If you wish you can thicken the gravy with flour stirred into the meat juices and fat in the roasting tray, before adding  your turkey giblet stock.

Your turkey is ready when there is no sign of pink juices when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a sharp knife.

Here’s to a delicious Christmas Dinner, and well done to all those who have bought Irish for today’s feast. Support for our farmers, growers, producers and fishermen is essential if we are to maintain a thriving food economy, showcase Ireland’s great home produced foods to tourists and the home market, and most importantly, ensure the livelihoods of those who work hard to bring the best to our tables. Merry Christmas!