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Tuesday 20 December 2011

Alex's Christmas Meat Tips

Meat is a tricky thing. If you don't cook it enough it can be mighty dodgy, but if you cook it too much it can end up tough as last season's Jimmy Choos. Here are my tips for meat mastery this Christmas.
Buy the best you can afford
Yes, I know, it's a cliche. But organic meat from your butcher will be tastier and moister than bargain basement pre-packed factory-farmed pap from the supermarket. And it is Christmas.

Bring it to room temperature
It'll help the meat to cook more evenly. A steak should stay out on the worktop for around an hour before cooking, a ginormous turkey will need a couple of hours before roasting.

Crisp & dry
To get a good crispy skin on poultry, make sure the bird is nice and dry then oil it up or rub it with butter. A few minutes at a high heat at the start of cooking will help the skin to get nice and crisp. If you remove the skin as soon as it's finished cooking, it'll stop it getting all steamy from the meat underneath.

Time it right 
Turkey takes 20 minutes per 500 grams, but add 10 minutes per kilo for a stuffed bird. For other meats, check out the handing meat roasting guide in the Domestic Sluttery book.

Baste your bird
If you don't fancy brining, you can still keep your turkey moist by regularly basting it with the juices and fat in the roasting tin. Just scoop them over the breast with a spoon, or invest in a rather scary looking syringe.

Check it's done
Recipes and time guides give an idea for timing, but always check the meat yourself. Poultry should always be thoroughly cooked. Cut into the thickest part (between the thigh and breast) to check the juices run clear. Do this over a white plate if possible. If you're feeling nervous, use a meat thermometer in the same spot and check that the meat has reached 70c.

Let it rest 
Never serve meat straight from the oven. Cover it with foil and leave it somewhere warm for the fibres to relax. It'll need to rest for at least 30 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make the gravy and sort out the vegetables.

Don't lose the juice 
Keep all those lovely pan juices to make gravy (look out for Carrie's post tomorrow).

Pic courtesy of Carly & Art's Flickr photostream

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