Cooking Tips – How to Cook a Perfect Christmas Roast?
Cooking the perfect Christmas roast need not be a chore. Simply follow proper guidelines on the equipment you will need, which cut of meat to pick, how to store it, how to prepare your roast and most importantly how to cook it.
An expert guide to cooking Christmas roasts
If you are planning a Christmas roast for the table – be it a plump chicken, juicy turkey or a tender piece of pork – here are some simple rules to achieve the perfect outcome.
- Meat thermometer – the right way to make sure your Christmas roast is cooked to your liking.
- Big, heavy-based roasting pan – For optimum heat dispersal.
- Roasting rack – Some meats, such as turkey and pork, are best roasted on a rack in the pan.
- Non-stick baking paper and Aluminum foil – to cover your roast if it is browning quickly and while it is resting.
- Kitchen string – for trussing chicken or shaping bones cuts of meat to ensure even cooking.
- Paper towels – to pat chicken or turkey dry inside and out before stuffing and seasoning.
- Sharp knife for scoring pork meat crackling and carving your bird.
For fresh poultry and meat, look for undamaged plump skin, and firm flesh. If it is packaged there should be minimal liquid, and it should be clear, not cloudy. It should also have a little odour.
Calculate approximately 150 to 200g of meat for each person.
- Chicken – Whether frozen or fresh, buy the best bird you can afford. The organic and free-range will have a meatier flavour. A 1.8kg chicken will feed between 4-5 people.
- Turkey – While the entire bird is still good, individual roasting includes a whole thigh and breast fillet. A 2.5kg whole turkey will easily feed between 4 to 6 people.
- Pork – a whole bunch of roasting options, including leg, boned rolled shoulder, easy carve leg, and rolled loin. The fat and rind for cracking should be even & unbroken.
Storing and thawing of meat
- Thaw your frozen poultry or meat in the refrigerator in a clean covered dish. A big turkey might take up to 3 and half days to fully thaw.
- Don’t freeze uncooked poultry or thawed meat.
- Once you bring your poultry or meat home, refrigerate or freeze it immediately.
- Store fresh meat in its packaging or a covered dish in the coldest area of the fridge for up to two days.
- Always wrap and store the cooked and uncooked meats separately.
- To freeze cooked meat, carve it off the carcass or bones, wrap it in a plastic cover, and store it in airtight containers. It’ll keep for up to one month.
Preparing and cooking Christmas roast
- Use separate chopping boards and utensils for cooked and raw meat and poultry, and wash well with warm soapy water after use.
- Dry full chicken or turkey inside and out with a paper towel before stuffing and seasoning.
- Ensure the stuffing is cooled before using. To cool the stuffing, place it in a covered pot in the fridge until needed.
- Stuff meat and poultry just before roasting to avoid any cross-contamination.
- To help keep the breasts of a whole turkey moist, lay a big piece of muslin in melted butter on top, or just wrap in prosciutto or bacon, or cover with a sheet of baking paper topped with foil paper.
- If you do not have a meat thermometer, check if your turkey or chicken is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices are clear. You are done.
- Roasted pork is correctly cooked when the centre still has a faint tinge of pink. Cooking it for too long and it’ll dry out.
- Always rest your poultry and meat, loosely covered with foil, for at least fifteen minutes, before serving. This allows the juices to settle and the meat to relax for a tender outcome.
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