Before we head on into this post I’d like to get a little something out-of-the-way…
There are varying opinions on whether poultry can be safely slow cooked.
If you are in any doubt as to whether slow cooking turkey is for you. Don’t do it.
I slow cook turkey, and have never had any adverse effect. I’m fanatical about food safety and hygiene (have I ever mentioned I have a
slight huge paranoia about poisoning? It emerged when I was very small – must have seen something on TV – Cleopatra maybe?).
There are food safety guidelines to follow at the end of this post. But I reiterate – if unsure – please steer clear.
Simple Slow Cooked Christmas Turkey
Picture the scene, it’s Boxing Day and there’s Tupperware galore of turkey overtaking the fridge.
That is, if you found time to strip the meat from the bones of your huge turkey. If you didn’t, there’s a suspicious looking half-eaten carcass loitering – waiting to meet its fate.
Your food-waste-conscience convinced you you’d find time to boil the inedible leftovers to make some fantastic home-made stock – but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. I’ve been there. Time after time. The sofa, a great family movie and a box of chocolates is a much more attractive option (don’t forget to enter the Thorntons giveaway Guys!).
How about taking it a littler slower this Christmas? You can save money, effort and reduce your leftovers – because as tasty as turkey is, day after day it can get a little uninspiring.
(My turkey breast joint cost £6 – approx. £1 per head)
Reduce the pace, and the pressure on the designated chef this Christmas, and let your slow cooker take the strain.
Six simple-steps to a perfect crock pot Christmas turkey
- Select an adequately sized turkey breast boneless joint to serve your guests and most importantly one that will fit inside the pot. A 1.5kg/3.3lb boneless joint will serve 4-6 and should fit inside a standard 3.5ltr/6pt pot. Depending on the number of guests, you may need a 6.5ltr/11½pt pot. This is a good investment as it’s great all year round for batch cooking – a highly efficient way of pre-preparing homemade meals.
- Before slow cooking, give the boneless joint a 10-minute blast in the oven on high. This browns and seals the turkey breast.
- Pop the joint in the pot, and top up with boiling stock to approx. two-thirds full. Allow 4-6 hours cooking time on high (based on 1.5kg/3.3lb – adjust cooking time for larger/smaller based on the appliance). You can add herbs, onion and even cranberries to the stock. This will form the basis of the gravy.
- Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the joint after 60-90 minutes to check the internal temperature has reached a safe 74°C/165°F for 2 minutes.
- 10 minutes before serving carefully remove the turkey and test the thickest part/centre of the breast, once again, with a meat thermometer to ensure it is thoroughly cooked. To brown the top of the joint place under the grill for approx 5 minutes. This will crisp any bacon covering, improve texture and make it look more presentable if carving at the table.
- Leave turkey to rest while you finish off the gravy. Remove the stock from the pot and make your gravy in your usual way on the hob.
Carve. Serve. Enjoy.
Things to remember to reduce the risk of food poisoning:
- Don’t wash your turkey before cooking. It is not required and can spread harmful bacteria from raw meat.
- Ensure hands are washed before and after handling raw food.
- Only slow-cook a turkey breast joint, never a whole turkey.
- Cook fresh and not previously frozen and then thawed turkey as this reduces the risks of food poisoning from harmful bacteria. Never use a slow cooker to cook any type of frozen food.
- Do not place stuffing inside the joint. Cook and serve separately.
- Always use very hot or boiling stock not just warm or cold.
- Using the highest temperature setting and testing with a meat thermometer helps to ensure that the turkey has reached the recommended safe internal temperature of 74°C/165°F for a minimum of 2 minutes.
- Ensure the cooker is no more than 2/3rds full when adding the fluid. Overfilling increases the chances of the meat not cooking evenly and the chances of harmful bacteria developing.
- Ensure when the meat is carved no pinkness remains and that the juices run clear.
- Try not to lift the lid on the pot unnecessarily. Each time you do it increases cooking time by a further 20 minutes. Remember appliances can vary in cooking times so know your cooker and always apply common sense.