Crowns & other cuts
We all know what to expect when buying a whole turkey, but there’s an ever-growing choice of joints now available in supermarkets and butchers. These are ideal for smaller families who don’t want a huge amount of leftovers – and indeed those with small ovens! Because these joints are normally much smaller than a whole turkey they will cook in no time – so don’t make the mistake of overcooking them. If you follow the magic calculation – 20 mins for every kg + 70 minutes if the joint is under 4kg (or + 90 minutes if the bird is over 4kg) at 190C/375F, Gas Mark 5 - you will enjoy a succulent, tasty meal whichever joint you choose.
This is what to look for:
Crowns are basically a whole turkey with the legs and wings removed to give you a joint of white breast meat on the bone. Quicker to cook, and easy to carve, many small families opt for a crown to avoid too many leftovers! Treat a crown exactly as you would a whole bird. You can sit the crown on a bed of stuffing or push flavoured butter under the skin. Or cover it in strips of bacon or herbs and butter before cooking. Weigh it with any stuffings before calculating cooking times.
Again, use the same cooking times as for a whole bird. Remove outer packaging and place saddle breast side down in a roasting tin. Spread with softened butter and a few bacon rashers if liked. Cook in the centre of the pre-heated oven for the calculated cooking time, turning the saddle over for the last 20 minutes of cooking time. Test it is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the saddle. If the juices run clear it is ready.
Many butchers offer a butterfly joint, which is a breast joint split down the middle and opened out. This allows you to add your own stuffing. Again, follow cooking times for a whole turkey making sure you weigh the joint after stuffing.
There is a huge variety of boned and rolled breast joints on offer. Many supermarkets offer skinless breast rolls encased in netting. Roast these with the netting in place – it helps keep the joint a good shape – and remove the netting before slicing.
You will also find boned and rolled white and dark turkey meat with skin. Again, the key is to calculate cooking times exactly as you would a whole turkey – although the total time will obviously be much shorter.
The final thing to remember is that all ovens vary – and extra demand for power of Christmas Day means temperatures may be lower than normal. Check your joint is done by piercing the thickest part. The juices which run out should be clear and not tinged with pink. And don’t forget to let your joint “rest” for at least 15 minutes in a warm place – this will make carving even easier.