Skip to the main content

Written by Dillon Lad, BSc Biochemical Engineering

Christmas is a time full of traditions which have developed over many centuries, but nothing says Christmas quite like a hearty roast turkey. Every year on Christmas day, at around mid-day, the nation will gather with their friends and family to feast on their Christmas meal.  

Want to know how to cook a quality Christmas dinner? There are so many variations. My perfect Christmas dinner is some roast turkey next to some pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts and roasted potatoes…not forgetting to cover it all in gravy. Top it off with a Christmas pudding or a yule log. 

Cooking the Christmas turkey 

The most difficult part is almost definitely the turkey, you’ll need around 3-4 hours just to cook this. Preparation time varies for different recipes, it’s all about the flavour you want to achieve. Here’s a relatively simple method you might like to follow: 

Ingredients: 

  • 5-6 kg bronze turkey, giblets removed 

  • 1 Onion (quartered) 

  • Lemon (halved) 

  • 1 Garlic (halved) 

  • Bay leaves 

  • 85g Butter  

  • Salt and pepper 

  • Glass red wine  

  • Bacon rashers  

  • Stuffing of your choice (you can buy some nice ones from the local supermarket)

Method: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 

  2. In the cavity between the turkey legs, place the onion and two lemon halves. This’ll give it a nice zest. Some recipes might suggest adding halves of garlic or bay leaves.  

  3. You’ll need the butter to smear over the turkey breast, completely covering it, before then seasoning the turkey with some salt and pepper. 

  4. Place your turkey on top of a layer of foil in a roasting tin 

  5. Some people will add strips of bacon over the breast, and pour red wine over the turkey. Make sure to wrap the foil around the turkey like a parcel to help lock in the juices 

  6. Roast in the oven for 3 and a half hours (for a 5-6 kg turkey) 

  7. 30 minutes before the end of cooking, cover the turkey with some of the juices that appear in the foil in the tin. This tends to be some fat that has come off the turkey, and will help keep the turkey moist.  

  8. At this point, you could also surround the turkey with some stuffing or pigs in blankets. Remove the bacon, if you added any. 

  9. Cook the remaining 30 minutes until a golden brown colour. How do you know if your turkey is cooked? If you push a skewer into the thickest part of a thigh, and the juices run clear, you’re good to go. If the juices are pinkish, cook for 15 minutes more and try again. 

For more recipes, go to BBC Good Food website, they have plenty of different Christmas turkey recipes. 

The origin of the Christmas turkey 

Ever wondered about the origin of the Christmas dinner tradition? The famous part of the dinner is the turkey. We eat over 10 million turkeys at Christmas in the UK, but before turkey, goose was the nation’s favourite bird to eat. It wasn’t until the mid-twentieth century that the favourite became turkey. The turkey tradition became popular during the Victorian times, some say that families got larger and larger, to the point that a goose wasn’t large enough to feed the family! 

Where to get a Christmas dinner in London  

If, after reading this article, you’ve decided that you’d rather not cook a Christmas dinner yourself, there is still hope! For a fine Christmas dining experience on Christmas day, you could try the Holborn Dining Room, but be prepared to pay up to £170 per person! 

Otherwise, British pubs are renowned for serving wholesome traditional meals, so check out your nearest pubs now and see what they’re cooking up on Christmas day. Some might not be open on Christmas day, but may be serving Christmas dinners from now.  

The Nicholson’s pub chain own many pubs in London, all of which are serving the full Christmas dinner experience already. Visit their website to find your nearest Nicholson’s pub, many of which are open on Christmas day. The closest Nicholson’s pub to UCL goes by the name of ‘The Marquis of Granby’. Unfortunately, this particular pub won’t be open on Christmas day, but are currently serving a full festive menu from now.  

Tags: