Christmas Dinner and Italian Wine – The Second Course

In the previous article of this series, we introduced you to an amazing recipe for Minestrone soup. Hopefully, that will give you a great starting course for your Christmas meal.

But now, we’re getting to the main event.

There are so many different directions that you can take your main Christmas meal in. But we’ve decided that we’d like to stick to the traditional side of things at Xtrawine. That means we’re going for the good old Christmas turkey for our second recipe of the series.

Just a little side-note before we get into the article.

Of course, your turkey won’t be the only thing that you serve for the main Christmas meal. You’ll have all of your veggies and anything else that you want to add. But if we tried to create a recipe for everything, we’d be here all day. So, we’re going to assume that you’ll handle all of the extra trimmings yourself and jump straight into the main dish.

This is how you make a gorgeous Christmas turkey that becomes the highlight of your whole feast!

The Ingredients

What’s that?

An ingredient list for cooking a turkey?

That’s right. You’re going to do a lot more than just bang the turkey into the oven and leave it to cook. This is going to be a Christmas turkey that lives in the memory so we’ve got to make it a little more special.

Before we get started, we’d just like to note that this recipe comes from the good people at BBC Good Food. We love this turkey and we’re sure you will too. This recipe comes in three parts, so here’s what you’ll need for all three:

The Turkey:

  • An oven-ready 5kg turkey. Remove the giblets and the neck but don’t throw them away. You can use them for the gravy.
  • An onion, which you should slice in half.
  • A lemon, which you should also halve.

A bulb of garlic, which also gets halved.

The Butter

  • 100g of the butter your choice.
  • A zested lemon. You’ll probably use the lemon that you used when cooking the turkey here so don’t throw that away.
  • Four tablespoons of vegetable bouillon powder.

The Salt Mix

  • A couple of tablespoons of sea salt.
  • A teaspoon of peppercorn.
  • A tablespoon of thyme leaves.

The Method

It’s already looking a little different from your standard Christmas turkey, right? The good news is that this doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to cook. Time is the big factor with this recipe so let’s jump right into the steps:

Step One

We’re starting on the 23rd of December here. That’s right, you’re going to start making this turkey two days ahead of Christmas day itself.

This is where the prep work comes in for the salt mix. Grind your sea salt together with your thyme leaves and pepper. You can use a pestle and mortar for this if you don’t have a grinder. 

Then, place your turkey in a roasting tin and starting pushing your fingers under the skin. Start from the neck and be gentle. The goal here is to push your whole hand down the length of the breast without tearing the skin.

Step Two

Why are you putting your hand under the skin?

You need to make some space for seasoning! Use your salt mixture to season the turkey, both above the skin and underneath it. Once you’ve done that, leave the turkey in the roasting pan breast-side up and pop it in the fridge. You won’t need it again until the big day. 

If you can, leave the turkey uncovered as this leads to crisper skin. 

Step Three

Grab a small bowl and add all of the ingredients that you’ve prepared for your butter. Mix them well until they’re combined completely. Then, cover the bowl and chill the mixture in the fridge. 

Step Four

Now, we’re jumping forward to Christmas day itself!

Remove the turkey from the fridge about an hour before you intend to cook it. You should do the same with your butter to give it some time to soften.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (down to 160 degrees Celsius if you have a fan-assisted oven). After that, it’s just a case of working out the cooking time. You need to add 40 minutes for each of the first 4 kgs of the turkey, with an extra 45 mins for every kilogram that comes after those first four. We have a 5kg turkey here, which means you need 205 minutes to cook it properly.

Step Five

Don’t just put the turkey in the over yet!

Use your hands to spread the butter underneath the skin of the turkey, with the goal being to cover the whole breast area. Try to spread a little on the thighs as well. When you’re done, use your hands to smooth the skin over and then place your lemon, onion, and garlic halves into the turkey’s cavity.

Step Six

Loosely cover your roasting tin with some foil and place it into the oven for the time calculated earlier.

About 30 minutes before the end of cooking, increase the temperature to 200/180 degrees Celsius, depending on what type of over you have. You should also remove the foil at this point and baste the turkey before placing it back in the oven for those last 30 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the turkey and leave it to rest on a warm platter, covered in foil, for about an hour.

The Wine Pairing

It’s wine pairing time! You’re going to switch from the red you used for the start to a nice Italian white wine for the turkey. A Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc with a medium body works really well here.

If you absolutely must go red, consider having a Pinot Noir ready for the meal.

The Final Word

Believe us when we tell you that this is a tasty turkey! Enjoy it while it lasts because we know that people will go in for seconds after they’ve had that first taste.

All that’s left is dessert, which we’ll be covering in the third part of this series. For now, why not grab some of your Christmas wines from our online store?


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