How to cook your Christmas Lunch in a slow Cooker.

How to cook Christmas lunch in a slow cooker.How to cook a turkey in a slow cooker

Just a quick update to share with you this story from the BBC website this morning. Anna Allatt has written a good article on the growing popularity of slow cookers. As an example of how useful they are and the merits of this way of cooking Anna demonstrates how to cook a turkey in a slow cooker.

Turkey can easily be a dry tasteless meat if you don’t get the cooking and prep just right. Slow cookers are a great way to cook cheaper cuts of meat  like pork shoulder and lamb shanks, but when you use one for a turkey the results seem to be very moist tender meat. The meat has also been cooked with the vegetables and some wine which should all help give the meat flavour.

The other great thing about cooking turkey this way is that it takes 12 hours. That means you can do all the prep and start it cooking nicely on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day you just need to use your main oven for roast potetoes etc.

You can find the full article over on the BBC Web Site. 

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The top 5 most frequently asked How to questions this Christmas.

According to the annual Google Trends the top five most frequently asked “How to…” Christmas related questions this year were:

  1. How to make a Christmas wreath?
  2. How to make Christmas decorations?
  3. How to cook a Christmas Turkey?
  4. How to draw a Christmas tree?
  5. How to decorate a Christmas tree?

That’s give me plenty of ideas for great blogs over the coming months.  This year we had lots of people reading my “How to cook a turkey” blog from a couple of years ago.  This blog looks at 6 top tips from professional chefs that you can use in your own kitchen. Its worth reading again and trying these tips next time you do roast chicken as the same tips work for that as well.

Top Christmas related How To's 2015

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Meal ideas for leftover Turkey

I hope you had a wonderful stress free Christmas day and you’ve now enjoyed a nice relaxing Boxing Day. At this point having enjoyed the Turkey hot on Christmas Day and maybe some leftover on Boxing day you are probably wondering what to do with what’s leftover?

One simple idea which I’m sure will be welcome as the weather takes a turn for the worse in the UK, is a nice hot Turkey Casserole.

Turkey Casserole

 

There’s a good Turkey Casserole recipe over on the BBC Good Food Website which I recommend you take a look at.

Crispy Turkey Salad

As an alternative why not pull the remaining meat off the Turkey and fry it until hot and crispy with some nice spices and chilli and then serve with a salad.


Fry leftover turkey for crisp turkey salad

There’s no need to add any oil to the frying pan, just get it nice and hot before adding the meat. The heat will release enough oil for cooking. I did how ever add a splash of mild chilli olive oil for extra flavour.  Cook the Turkey until it’s hot all the way through and crispy but be careful not to burn it.  When done mix with some green salad, tomatoes and olives and serve with crusty bread and butter.

Crispy Turkey Salad

Add some pomegranate to make it a lovely Christmas treat. This will make a nice change after roast dinner on Christmas Day and no doubt the various Christmas Dinners you’ve had at various functions in the run up to Christmas.

Let me know how you use your left over Turkey by leaving a comment below.

 

 

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6 secret tips professional chefs use to cook a perfect roast turkey or roast chicken.

How to cook a perfect turkey

Cooking the perfect roast turkey or roast chicken  is actually really simple but there are some tips and tricks that the top professional chefs learn that you are probably not aware of.

  1. Practice makes perfect: This ones a bit obvious but if you only cook a roast dinner once a year at Christmas how can you expect to be good at it?  Try and do a roast Chicken lunch once a month for the family to develop and practice your technique.  Top chefs work in kitchens where they are roasting birds every day so they really perfect the art and science of roasting.
  2. Don’t cook your turkey or chicken straight from the fridge. Let your turkey or chicken warm up to room temperature before you put it in the oven.  Obviously don’t leave it out too long in a hot kitchen before cooking it.  You want the flesh not to feel really cold to the touch.  When the bird comes out of the fridge it will be cold all the way through and the muscle fibres will have contracted. If you cook the bird while it is cold like this it will be tough and the coldest affects the cooking time.
  3. Steam. Most professional kitchens use ovens that allow the chefs to control how much water vapour / steam is in the oven in contrast most domestic ovens just get very hot and dry.  It’s the difference between a sauna and a steam room. If you want a moist tender roast turkey or chicken you need to get steam happening in your oven. I recommend making sure that your bird is in a tray but raised up on a bed of onions and carrots. You can then put some water in the roasting tray that will boil and generate steam to help the bird roast.  It is however essential that the bird isn’t sitting in the water or you’ll end up with boiled turkey rather than roast turkey and that’s not so nice. The other option is to put an old cooking tray at the bottom of your oven and fill it up with boiling water.  This will evaporate and boil off during the roasting process and keep the bird lovely and moist. You may want to top this up occasionally.  Do be careful however when you open your oven door as you may be surprised by the steam that comes out – stand well back!
  4. Remove the legs and the wishbone: The legs are much denser and need more cooking time that the rest of the bird.  It’s almost impossible to cook a perfect roast turkey or chicken if you leave the legs on.  Taken them off and either use them for another meal or cook them separately.Turkey Leg Ballotine

    I highly recommend using the Turkey legs to for Turkey Leg Ballotine, this is a deboned turkey leg stuffed with sausage meat.  You then cook these long and slow rapped in silver foil.  The result is wonderful tasty brown leg meat with a sausage stuffing.  It’s a great way to use the legs, help you cook your turkey better and gives you a lot more turkey meat to feed people with.

  5. Pre-heat the oven to its maximum temperature.  The oven temperature will  drop anyway when you open the oven door to put the bird in.  I put the bird in when the oven is at it’s hottest give it 5 minutes and then turn the oven down to the cooking temperature. This initial heat helps to seal the bird and keep in the moisture.
  6. Resting time.  It’s really important to let your turkey or chicken relax after your roasted it and before you carve it.  If you cut into a roast bird as soon as it comes out of the oven you’ll find all the juices just run out onto your carving tray, leaving the meat dry.  Instead take the bird out of the oven and double wrap it in tin foil and then cover it with a couple of warm towels.  You can then leave it to gentle cool for and up to 90 minutes.  During this relaxation time the juices will go back into the meat and make it nice and moist.  This also allows you to free up oven space so that you can put roast potatoes or Yorkshire puddings in. After an hour or so your turkey will still be pipping hot and then ready to carve and serve with the freshly cooked roast vegetables.

If you have other tips for cooking a perfect roast Turkey or Chicken I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

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Christmas Eve 2010

So it’s finally Christmas Eve, and I’ve managed to sit down for a few minutes with a cup of coffee and a chance to update my blog.   This year I ordered our Free Range Turkey from the local farm shop and it looks lovely…  The husband did his duty and went and picked it up yesterday.

It came with a really well written and informative leaflet from www.totallytraditionalturkey.com.  The turkey was nicely presented in a box, wrapped in cooking parchment paper and as you can see finished with a couple of sprigs of rosemary.

This afternoon I’ll be enjoying a cosy afternoon in the kitchen cooking sausage rolls, preparing vegetables and getting the turkey ready for the morning.  I’m going to remove the legs and then fillet the bones out and then stuff the meat where the bone was with sausage meat and sage.  I then wrap this with tin foil and let it set in the fridge over night.  You can then cook these legs separately, and because the leg always takes the longest to cook it helps you avoid over cooking the rest of the bird.

To help me while I work and to get into the Christmas spirit I’ll be turning into the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols live from the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge at 15:00 on Radio 4.

I hope your Christmas preparations are going well, try not to worry too much and make sure you enjoy it.

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