Cooking the Perfect Turkey


With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, we’d like to share with you our butcher’s tips for cooking the perfect turkey.

When it comes to the bird, we recommend our Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher ‘Hollyberry’ turkeys which have been reared in small flocks in Pembrokeshire. They are naturally reared and free from antibiotics and growth promoters where their welfare is paramount. They are dressed in a traditional manner to which not only gives a more attractive appearance but helps retain the juices better.

Preparing Your Turkey

You can give your turkey a helping hand by coating it in a marinade before cooking, giving you meat that is beautifully flavoured as well as ensuring a crisper skins.

Try mixing together lemon zest, thyme, ground black pepper and any of your favourite Christmas spices with 5-6 tbsp of salt, depending on the size of the bird. The night before cooking, sprinkle and rub into the turkey, inside and out. The next morning, gently pat dry any moisture that may have been drawn from the skin overnight. Your bird is now ready for the oven.

Resting Your Turkey

Most people rest their turkey once they’ve finished cooking it in the oven, but not everyone knows why they’re doing it. During cooking the meat has come into contact with fierce heat. This forces the juices to be pushed towards the centre of the turkey. Resting means these juices can re-distribute throughout – meaning juicier meat!

Put the turkey onto a large carving or serving plate, ensuring it’s deep enough to collect all those resting juices, and cover with foil and a clean tea towel and rest for one hour. Don’t worry, it will still be perfectly warm when you come to carve.

Carving a Turkey

You should start by removing the legs of the turkey.  Cut down the skin between the leg and breast, and then bend the whole leg back until you feel the joint ‘pop’. Slice through the joint, removing the leg from the turkey, then cut through between the thigh and drumstick. Repeat with the other leg.

Then, remove each breast, one at a time by cutting down one side of the breast bone and prising the breast away.  Repeat with the other side, then slice across horizontally, on a board. This will produce perfect slices and remove the most meat from the carcass.

Cooking  Your Turkey

  • Take the turkey out of the fridge early in the morning. If the turkey’s closer to room temperature it will cook faster, and more evenly.
  • Remove the wishbone before you cook – this will make it easier to remove the whole breast and slice it separately.
  • Make sure your gravy and veg are piping hot, as the gravy will bring the turkey temperature back up after resting.
  • Cooking turkey in a foil tent means it will steam in its own juices, resulting in tender meat.
  • Take off the foil and turn up the oven at the end to get a crispy skin.

The Perfect Christmas Gravy

There are hundreds of turkey gravy recipes out there and recommended by some of the top chefs.  We love this proper turkey recipe from the BBC Good Food website

We hope these tips help you have the best Christmas turkey dinner ever!

You can order your Christmas turkey from our shop in Swansea Market or online at  All orders should be placed by 16 December for delivery on 23rd December.

Merry Christmas from the team at Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher

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