THE turkey is the centrepiece of Christmas dinner, so the last thing you want it for it to be spoiled for the big day.
But, for most of us, we only cook a turkey once a year so you’d be forgiven for not knowing exactly what you are doing. Here’s how to get the perfect bird this Xmas…
Getty Images 3 There are two simple steps to checking if your Christmas turkey has gone off
How can you tell if a turkey has gone off?
Check the smell
If the turkey has gone off it will have a very gamey or acrid, ammonia smell.
The flesh should naturally have a gamey smell, but if it is off it will smell far stronger than usual.
And if it is really, really, off the smell will almost be too much to handle.
In these instances, it’s not safe to eat the poultry product – so swerve it and avoid getting ill this festive season.
wallisdoyle/Instagram 3 If your turkey is off the skin and flesh will be a funny colour
Check the colour
Still not convinced after giving it a sniff?
Check the colour of the flesh.
It should be a good pink-ish colour and be moist in appearance.
If it has a greenish/grey tinge and feels quite slimy, bin it straight away.
Similarly, if your bird has been frozen, there may be dry flaky patches on the flesh indicating freezer burn.
While this does not necessarily mean you cannot eat the meat, it might not taste so great once it has been cooked and will have dry patches throughout.
What is the best way to cook a turkey?
Getty – Contributor 3 Get some extra flavour into your turkey by rubbing flavours and herbs under the skin
Checked that your poultry is good to go?
Mary Berry revealed her top tips for cooking a festive bird this winter.
Her top tips include covering the top of the breast in softened button for browning.
Placing lemon slices and thyme sprigs under the skin can also create a great flavour.
Always check the turkey’s juices run clear to ensure it is cooked.
Leaving it to stand for 30 minutes before carving will also help.
For more information, take a look at Mary’s full recipe and method here.
Happy Hanukkah 2017! Why is the Jewish festival known as Chanukah and why do we light candles?
HANUKKAH or Chanukah is a Jewish festival which is celebrated by lighting one candle a day for eight days. It’s already underway, but how did it first begin? Here’s everything you need …
HANUKKAH or Chanukah is a Jewish festival which is celebrated by lighting one candle a day for eight days.
It’s already underway, but how did it first begin? Here’s everything you need to know…
Getty Images A Jewish family sits round the table to celebrate Hanukkah
What is Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrated in either November or December.
This year the Festival of Lights began on the evening of Tuesday December 12 and ends of the evening of Wednesday December 20.
The holiday begins on the 25th day of Kislev – the ninth month of the year on the Hebrew calendar.
Games are often played at Hanukkah, and the most common involves a dreidel (type of spinning top) and is a popular way of helping children to remember the great miracle.
Alamy Jews observe the celebration by lighting one candle a day for eight days
What is the history behind Hanukkah?
The word means ‘rededication’ and honours the Jews’ struggle for religious freedom more than 2,500 years ago.
It dates back to two centuries before the beginning of Christianity.
Legend has it the leaders of a Jewish rebel army called the Maccabees rose up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors.
King Antiochus had taken control of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and ordered an altar to Zeus to be built.
Judaism and circumcision was banned and pigs were sacrificed.
The Jewish uprising was led by Judah Maccabee and lasted three years until the Maccabees seized Jerusalem.
Judaism’s text the Talmud says only pure olive oil with the seal of the high priest can be used for the Hanukiah.
They wanted to rededicate the temple but could only one container enough for one day.
However, miraculously it stayed alight for eight days – the time needed to get hold of a new supply of kosher oil.
Why do Jews light candles at Hanukkah?
On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a candle is lit in a menorah (candelabra) called a hanukkiyah.
While one legend says that the one container of oil stayed alight for eight days, another said that the uprising found eight iron spears and put candles in them, and used them for lighting up the temple.
The tradition is celebrated today, and the candles are typically lit left to right and placed in the front windows of houses.
Alamy ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’ by Caravaggio
Why is it sometimes called Chanukah?
In Hebrew, Hanukkah is pronounced with the letter ‘chet’ so it sounds like Chanukah.
The chet’s ‘ch’ sound is not enunciated like the ‘ch’ in child – and is more of a guttural sound.
It can be spelt Chanukah or Hanukkah.
What is traditional Hanukkah food?
Jews traditionally eat fried foods to honour the miracle temple oil.
‘Sufganiyot’ are round deep-fried jam or custard-filled donuts topped with powdered sugar.
They are from a yeast donut pastry mentioned in the Talmud.
Getty Images ‘Sufganiyot’ are round deep-fried jam or custard-filled donuts topped with powdered sugar
How to cook turkey – size guide and how long it takes to defrost and cook your Christmas dinner in the oven
IF you’ve agreed to cook Christmas dinner for your family this year, the pressure is on to make the perfect roast. Most Brits tuck into turkey on December 25 but, if you only cook this meat o…
IF you’ve agreed to cook Christmas dinner for your family this year, the pressure is on to make the perfect roast.
Most Brits tuck into turkey on December 25 but, if you only cook this meat once a year, it can be tricky to get it right.
Getty Images When it comes to the size of the bird, allow 1lb or 500g per person
What size turkey do I need?
When picking the perfect turkey, you’re considering more than the roast dinner itself.
Part of the fun of Christmas is having enough leftovers for turkey sandwiches in the evening, and maybe a home-made curry or pie the next day.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to panic buy the biggest bird in the store.
This would be unnecessarily expensive and the bigger the bird, the longer it will take to cook.
The general rule of thumb is to allow 1lb, or 500g, per person.
Whole birds are the best value, but crowns are easier to carve – because the legs have already been removed.
Getty Images Your cooking calculations need to take into account time for defrosting, roasting and resting the bird
Is a 12lb bird big enough?
Yes, unless you are cooking for around 12 people.
For a group of six to eight, you’re recommended to buy an 8lb turkey – but some birds grow to much larger than that.
This farm in East Devon produced three 60lb turkeys in 2016. The enormous birds are eight times the average weight of baby born in the UK.
Get your carb fix thanks to Dean Edwards with a meat feast spaghetti pizza or spinach and ricotta stuffed shells
AS CHRISTMAS draws closer and the cold intensifies, don’t forget to get your carb fix to keep you going. Thanks to Dean Edwards, you need to look no further. Meat Feast Spaghetti Pizza Serves…
AS CHRISTMAS draws closer and the cold intensifies, don’t forget to get your carb fix to keep you going.
Thanks to Dean Edwards, you need to look no further.
Meat Feast Spaghetti Pizza
Prep time 10 mins
Cooking time 30 mins
Cals 642/ Sat fat 20g
Lara Holmes Indulge in our meat feast spaghetti pizza this winter
For the sauce
- 1 red onion, very finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1tsp sugar
For the base
- 200g spaghetti
- 60g Parmesan
- 2 eggs, beaten
For the toppings
- 1 x 125g mozzarella ball
- 150g ready-grated mozzarella
- 12 slices pepperoni
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4tbsp Nduja sausage or chorizo
- 4tbsp mascarpone
- Fresh basil, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/gas mark 6. Make the sauce by frying the onion and garlic in a splash of oil for 5 mins. Add the tomatoes and balsamic, then simmer for 5 mins until thickened. Season and add the sugar.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta to packet instructions, drain, then place in a bowl with a little oil to stop it sticking. Cool slightly then stir in the Parmesan and eggs. Divide between two greased 8in spring-form cake tins and compress, bringing a little up the sides to form a crust.
- Spoon over the tomato sauce and spread evenly, then cover with the mozzarella, pepperoni, tomatoes and Nduja. Bake for 20 mins.
- Rest for a couple of mins then remove the pizzas from the tins, dot on the mascarpone and sprinkle over the basil.
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