For me, Christmas means time with family and friends - and roast turkey for the big feast. Growing up, we always had roast turkey for the holidays and it has become not only a ritual but also a tried and true way to quickly get everyone around the table to celebrate. It wouldn't be Christmas without it.
I've tried cooking turkey every way possible, but roasting has always been my preferred method. Judging the cooking time and temperature is always the key - alongside brining - to a succulent bird. I discovered that whether you're cooking the whole turkey or just roasting the crown, roasting low and slow after an initial blast of heat gives the ultimate results.
It's a challenge to keep a roast turkey - and a roast chicken, for that matter - moist because of their natural water content.
A great way to help keep the moisture is by brining, which not only keeps the flesh juicy but also helps to tenderise it. The salt in the brine alters the proteins in such a way that moisture is retained and you end up with a juicier turkey on the dinner table. You definitely shouldn't skip brining.
Cooking a turkey is a balancing act. Different parts of the bird have different ratios of muscle tissue and connective tissue and therefore cook best at different temperatures and cooking times. To tell when your turkey is done, pierce the leg with a knife and if the juices run clear, you're there. Of course, I would strongly advocate the use of an accurate thermometer. Overcooking turkey can result in a dry tasteless bird. I always use a probe for precision. When the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 70C, you know the bird is ready.
Start a day ahead to brine the turkey.