Have yourself a perfectly cooked turkey



Planning on a lavish Christmas dinner this year with your family, friends and loved ones? Well take on board some top tips to ensure everyone enjoys their festive meal.

Officers at East Cambridgeshire District Council are giving advice on how to defrost, cook and store a turkey to make sure that food poisoning doesn't spoil anyone’s Christmas.

Some of the basic tips include:

•    Defrost your turkey in a refrigerator away from cooked food, and be aware that thawing a turkey, depending on its weight, can take as much as five days.
•    Remember to wash your hands after handling raw turkey.
•    There is no need to wash the cavity of the bird before cooking. Food Poisoning bacteria will be splashed all over your sink, draining board and taps.
•    It is better to cook stuffing in a roasting tin. Nearly a third of Britons prepare their stuffing by placing it inside their turkey but this can mean the centre of the bird or the stuffing itself is not properly cooked.
•    Plan your cooking time properly. Follow the cooking times and other instructions on the label or, as a general guide, for a turkey under 4.5kg allow 45 minutes per kilo plus 20 minutes; for one weighing between 4.5kg and 6.5kg 40 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes; and for those over 6.5kg 35 minutes per kg plus 20 minutes. All at 180ºC, 350ºF, Gas Mark 4 (after the oven has preheated).
•    Check the turkey is cooked by inserting a knife or skewer into the thigh or breast to make sure the juices are running clear.
•    Any turkey that is left over should be quickly cooled, covered and stored in a refrigerator. Always eat leftovers within two days of cooking.
•    If reheating leftover turkey, heat it through until it is piping hot.

Elizabeth Bailey, Principal Environmental Health Officer, said: “Christmas is a great time of year with lots of fun, presents and entertainment, but don’t ruin it by having food that isn’t cooked properly. For many, this year may be the first time they will have cooked a big turkey or for others it is an annual tradition; either way it is very important to follow simple advice to not fall fowl of a food bug.”

For more information on turkey defrosting and cooking times log onto www.eastcambs.gov.uk and www.food.gov.uk