Tag Archives: size

Buying and Roasting Turkey – The Basics


2.25 kg / 5lbs                          Serves 4 – 6

3.6 kg / 8lbs                             Serves 6 – 8

4.5 – 5.6 kg / 10-12 lbs        Serves 10 – 12

9 kg / 20 lbs                             Serves 12 – 15


Always weigh your turkey after it’s stuffed – you might need to use bathroom scales.  Allow 40 minutes per kg (20 minutes per lb) at 190c  /  375F  /  Gas mark 5.  (If you’re using a fan oven, the temperature should be 170C – that approximately 365F).   Make sure that the juices run clear; if not, return to the oven for 20 minutes and test again.


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Freedom for George

BBC News reports that a lobster, estimated to be 140 years old, is due to be released back into the ocean off Kennebunkport in Maine, where lobster trapping is banned.  ‘George’ weighs 20 pounds and was caught two weeks ago in the waters off Newfoundland – he has spent the interim in the confines of a tank in a New York restaurant.


I would think that George would have made very poor eating, being so old n’ all, but releasing him back into the ocean?  Off Kennebunkport?  I was there not so long ago and photographed these, just around the corner at Cape Porpoise….piles and piles of them:


Bon voyage et bon chance George!

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Bird? What bird?

roadr_coy1What size of bird (turkey) should you buy for you and your guests?  Aim on 1 pound of turkey for each adult guest (1-1/2 if you’re aiming to have leftovers).  Many people just go ahead and buy a great behemoth of a bird, regardless of this calculation – it’s no wonder they get sick of the sight of the thing by day two!  (A simple ‘What size turkey to buy’ chart is posted at the end of this article for quick reference).

If you only have a small group to cater for, you may like to consider an alternative.  Nowadays you can buy just a ‘turkey crown’ – this is literally just the turkey breast meat, so if you don’t like the brown meat anyway, this may suit you better.  Disadvantages: You’re unlikely to find it complete with giblets so you won’t easily be able to make your own turkey stock for the gravy (normally well worth doing), it won’t look as impressive if you usually take the bird to the table to carve (!) and it won’t cook in the same way.  Nevertheless, it’s a simpler option for a smaller family get together.

Steering away from turkey entirely, did you know that a growing number of people in the UK are opting for chicken on Christmas Day?  There is absolutely no reason why you can’t still do all the traditional trimmings  like ‘pigs in blankets’ to serve alongside the humble chicken. 

If your group is too big for a single chicken but too small to warrant an entire turkey, there is a kind of half-way-house option of a capon.   A capon is basically a castrated cockerel, the meat of which is succulent and tender.  They are, unfortunately, hard to find and big poultry producers use hormones to induce caponization (never something I’m happy with).  If you’re lucky enough to find a small supplier, and like me you’re bothered by hormones in food, check whether the bird has been surgically or chemically castrated.  You may find capons available through small, quality butchers or farm shops.

If you pick the ‘chicken option’ don’t feel you are cheating your family by the way.  I, for one, far prefer the flavour of chicken to the rather bland and often dry turkey.

Moving away from chicken and turkey, on continental Europe goose is the traditional choice in many countries.  It’s moist, tasty and has the added advantage of rendering a supply of fat to use for delicious roast potatoes and veggies.  See chef Gordon Ramsay’s roast goose recipe here.  (Cook the goose on a raised rack in the roasting tin to keep it out of the fat …not mentioned in this recipe).

Those are the most obvious bird alternatives for your Christmas meal.  No rule book says, however, that you need a bird at all.  A tasty roast of beef or pork would be very nice and judging by the number of hits I’ve been getting to this site lately for ham cooked in coke, I’d say that if that takes your fancy then you’d be in good company!


If you’re going down the turkey route, here is a quick reference chart to tell you what size turkey you’ll need to buy:

5 lb / 2.25 kg                    serves 4 – 6

8 lb / 3.6 kg                       serves 6 – 8

10-12 lb / 4.5 – 5.6 kg   serves 10 – 12

20 lb / 9 kg                        serves 12 – 15

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