Gordon Ramsay spills secret to perfect Christmas turkey and mistake people make

For most, the star of Christmas dinner is a turkey.

So, to make sure it’s cooked to perfection Gordon Ramsay has shared his top tips and the common mistakes you’re making.

The 54-year-old chef shared the advice on YouTube where he walked through the lengthy process from preparing the turkey to making the most delicious gravy to serve it with.

He said: “Turkey is a very lean bird and it can dry out, so it’s very important we help it to cook perfectly.”

In the tutorial, he cooked a 5kg bird which he said is enough to feed eight people comfortably.

Buttering up
“The secret of success for a great Christmas dinner is making sure the turkey doesn’t turn out dry – and it’s all in the preparation,” said Gordon.

The trick to the perfect turkey, according to the chef is to keep the bird “incredibly moist”.

To do this, simply sprinkle salt and pepper into a bowl of soft butter, and add a dash of olive oil, the zest of two lemons and their juice.

“This gives the flavoured butter a wonderful citrus zing.”

Then crush three cloves of garlic and chop a generous handful of parsley before giving everything a good mix.

Preparing the bird
To season the bird, sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity.

Then cut two onions in half and pop them in too, as they roast, they steam inside the bird, giving it a “lovely sweetness”.

Put lemon and a couple of bay leaves inside the cavity too to balance the flavours.

Apply the butter mixture under the bird’s skin, being careful not to tear it as the butter will run out, then massage what’s left all over the top of the skin, covering it entirely.

This can always be done on Christmas Eve to save you a bit of time on the big day, just cover the turkey in tin foil and leave it in the fridge until you’re ready to put it in the oven.

Cooking the turkey
When you’re ready to cook the turkey, preheat an oven to 220C.

Pop it into a roasting tray and drizzle olive oil all over. “This makes it nice and crispy, and stops the butter from burning,” said Gordon.

Cook the turkey for 10 minutes – this browns the bird quickly.

Remove it from the oven and baste it with the juices, before draping smokey, streaky bacon over the top and baste again.

“The bacon protects it,” he said. “It stops it from drying out and will give the gravy a wonderful base.”

Then turn the oven down to 180C and start roasting the meat.

For Gordon’s 5kg bird, it was cooked for two-and-a-half-hours – 30 minutes for every kilo – basting every so often.

When the time is up, stick a knife into the bottom of the thigh to see if it’s cooked. If the juices run clear, it’s done.

“That’s 90% of your work done,” said Gordon.

Resting the meat
The “secret” to a perfect turkey though, is resting it.

“At the meat relaxes, it reabsorbs its juices, making it succulent and tender, plus it will be easier to calve.

“The flavour will be 10 times more exciting once it’s rested.”

Gordon added: “When I first got the chance to cook Christmas lunch for the chefs in Paris, they taught me one crucial thing: I was only 21 at the time and they made me rest the turkey for as long as I had cooked it.

“I’d cooked it for three hours, so I rested it for three hours. What a difference – incredible!

“It might seem like a long time to let it rest but, remember, the turkey doesn’t need to be piping hot because it’s being served with hot gravy.”

Making the gravy
For his video, Gordon made a turkey gravy with cider and walnuts to give a “wonderfully nutty flavour”.

The first thing to do is to drain the excess fat from the roasting tray, and put it on the heat.

Then, strip the bacon from the turkey and remove the onions and lemon from the cavity before cutting it all up and putting them into a roasting tray.

Add a couple of sprigs of rosemary to give it a “lovely aromatic punch”, then fry.

As you do so, add in three chopped tomatoes to help thicken the gravy.

Then remove the wings and trimmings from the cooked bird and add them to the tray as well as some dry cider and the juices from the rested turkey from earlier.

Once the liquid has reduced by half, crush the veg and turkey with a masher, pour in some chicken stock and reduce again.

When it’s ready, sieve the mixture, using the back of a ladle to squeeze the juice through.

Add a sprig of rosemary and leave it to infuse “ready for the finishing touch”.

You can also add crushed walnuts to the bottom of the gravy boat for added flavour.