Cook the perfect turkey with these tips including right time and ideal temp

Cook the perfect turkey with these tips including right time and ideal temp

Kitchens around the UK will soon be descending into panic as amateur chefs hope and prey they’ve cooked their Christmas turkey right – and with these top tips you can guarantee excellent results.

You don’t want it overcooked because it will be dry, but cook it too little and you’ll poison your guests, so how do you get the big bird just so?

Dr Peter Barham, a professor from the University of Bristol, has now shared the science behind cooking turkey – revealing what happens to the meat at each stage of the process.

By following his advice, you’ll be able to make sure your Christmas dinner is perfect – and the most important thing to remember is that you must get the temperature right.

Speaking to, he said: “Meat consists of muscle fibres, connective tissues and fats. The muscle fibres largely consist of two proteins, myosin and actin.

“As meat is cooked, so heat flows in and more proteins are denatured. The denatured proteins shrink making the meat progressively tougher. Thus the longer you cook any meat the ‘tougher’ the muscle fibres will become.”

Dr Barham went on to say that cooking between 40ºC and 60°C was essential to perfect the bird, and he added that he likes to cover the more delicate breasts with aluminium foil to prevent overcooking them.

He then suggests removing the foil towards the end of the cooking, and to keep stocking under the turkey through the cooking process to ensure the juices are being evaporated.

He said to set the oven at around 160°C, as there will be a temperature gradient between the bird and the apparatus.

He said you’ll know the turkey is done when the parts furthest from the outside have reached the desired temperature, and you’ll need a thermometer to check.

Calculating how long it takes to cook is a bit trickier, but Dr Barham said that temperature is key – and when the inside has reached 74°C you’ll be good to go.

He continued: “Once you’ve cracked the turkey, of course, you still need to worry about the vegetables, the gravy, the stuffing and of course the pudding before you can rest on your laurels as a chemist!”