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How to cook turkey….or how not to stuff up your Christmas lunch

How to Cook Turkey: Pinterest

I went to Stamford Bridge last week…and no it wasn’t to watch Liverpool in another glorious victory *I wish* – it was to learn how to cook turkey – properly, and from the BEST chef *ish*.

How to cook a turkey: Stamford Bridge

I was actually there to learn how to cook turkey at a Marco Pierre White Masterclass from Lean On Turkey to make sure that this year I had a perfect Christmas lunch. It is going to be the first Christmas Day I have spent with my mum, dad and brother for ten years. That’s a long story, but suffice to say its important that I don’t stuff it up.

I don’t make fresh stock usually, I am no different to everyone else

Marco Pierre White, Stamford Bridge

Thankfully, Marco was surprisingly down to earth about his turkey lunches, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it might be to get things right; so here are the top tips I learnt from him for all the different stages of Christmas lunch, minus the bits where there is arguing, and too much drinking of course….


Buying the bird

  • You don’t need to get a massive Turkey if you are feeding a lot or people, sometimes its easier to buy two small ones – smaller turkeys are much easier to cook *and carry*
  • It is fine to buy a crown, and ask the butcher to give you some Turkey bones so you can make a stock, if you want to. However, you don’t have to make your own stock…you can use ship bought if it makes your life easier *revelation*

Preparing the bird; turning it into a crown

  • If you have decided to buy a whole bird, turn it into a crown to make the cooking easier. To do this you need to
    • Remove the giblets after popping it on a chopping board
    • Cut off the wings, and legs with a very sharp knife
    • Remove the turkey carcass – the way to do this is to turn your turkey vertical, grip the top gently and slice down the right and left hand side of the backbone. Pull the back down to its lying flat, and then cut across the top of it to remove totally to leave your crown *yeah*
    • To turn your leg into a thigh wave a magic wand..oops sorry, hold the bottom of the legs you have already removed, and cut the bone just above the joints.
How to cook turkey: Crowning

Stuffing the turkey

  • Remove the wish bone, so when carving it, its easier to do
  • Crown; pull the skin back a little, and put the stuffing into the neck only; pull the skin over again to cover up
  • Thighs; again, pull the skin back a wee bit, pop the stuffing inside, and then reseal.
Hot to coook turkey: Stuffing the thigh
How to Cook Turkey: Marco shows us how to stuff the thighs

Cooking the turkey

  • Pop the wings, legs, and carcass into a roasting tray with a knob of butter and set aside to do the gravy
  • Heat your oven to 160°C (fan assisted) and 180°C otherwise. A 10lb turkey crown should take c. 1hr 30 mins, but do check the instructions on the packet as these are the best guidelines for you. Thighs would take around 55mins from this size of bird
  • Season the top of the crown with sunflower oil and salt, and put into the pre-heated oven on a roasting tray above your bones to help capture all the flavours in your stock.

Knowing whether the turkey is ready?

  • Invest in a meat probe to check the temperature of the turkey
  • Turkey breast should by 66°C and thigh 72°C for that perfect Christmas dinner taste…its worth the extra not to be eating dry turkey on the day itself.

Carving the turkey

  • Remove the stuffing by holding it with yoiur finger tips, and cutting around it carefully
  • Slice the breast on the crown by cutting downwards and moving your knife lengthways in long diagonal strokes. Carve one side, then swop to the other
  • Carve the thighs by removing the stuffing gently by slicing around it. To carve it, hold the joint at the bone and run the knife down each side to remove the bone. Then, using a fingertip hold, carve the meat lengthways.
How to cook turkey: Carving

So that was the turkey, didn’t turn out bad now did it?

How to cook turkey: Served

What about how to make some of the other trimmings on Christmas day, though….well if you insist!



  • Discarded bones from your turkey crown
  • Water
  • Bouillon
  • Garlic
  • Onion.

Cooking instructions

  • Add the bones from the crown to a roasting tray, with the onion and garlic and roast for an hour to an hour and a half
  • Bring to the boil with water and bouillon to create a fuller flavour
  • Sieve and then leave to stand
  • Remove the fast from the surface, and then boil again, this time thickening it if required, with a dash of cornflour.
How to cook turkey: Stock



  • Paxo *yeah I know – faints*
  • Sausagemeat
  • Onion
  • Chopped sage

Cooking instructions

  • Chuck it in a big bowl *seriously* with equal Paxo and Sausage meat
  • Mix together, and then pop it inside your turkey and thighs *no sniggering*

I totally failed to take a picture of this, I was too busy marvelling that Marco put Paxo in it – I did, however, get an atmospheric shot of Marco’s glasses. All the best people wear them you know – what do you think?

How to cook turkey: Glasses
Marco’s most important tool…



  • 500g frozen cranberries
  • 250g sugar
  • Orange juice
  • Port

Cooking instructions

  • Heat the sugar and cranberries together on the hob, heating will release the juices into the pan
  • Stir gently to mix
  • Don’t overheat – the cranberries and juices should be the consistency of “wet jam” according to Marco
  • Add the Orange Juice and Port
  • Mix together again by stirring but after removing from the heat
  • Freeze if required for serving later.
How to Cook a Turkey: Cranberry Sauce

And that is very much that!

How to cook turkey: Setting

Apologies that these aren’t beautifully prepared recipe cards for you – I haven’t worked that bit out on the blog yet; much as my cooking leaves a lot to be desired, by blogging about cooking does as well *consistency is key!*

Despite my usual reticence in the kitchen, I did leave the masterclass with the feeling that this was actually something that I could do, so roll on Christmas Lunch – I’m gonna nail you this year!

How to cook turkey: Crowns

If you would like some more help with your lunches – pop on over to some of the other great blogs out there on the Masterclass I attended from:

Mummy Barrow

Mari’s World

The Crazy Kitchen, and

Cake, Photos, Life.

Finally, if you do have a lot of turkey leftovers on the day – head on over to the Lean on Turkey website for some leftover turkey recipes – some of them look lovely; risotto is always a hit in our house!

We were compensated for writing this post, and provided with a £30 voucher and a meat thermometer – however, it was a fabulous day, and I loved it so all opinions, recipes and excitement from the day are well and truly my own.


Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Sunday 29th of September 2013

i am so jealous you ladies got to meet Marco! The dish looks amazing too! Many thanks for linking up with the #FridayFoodie. Pinned and stumbled.

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