THEY know a few things about how to make meat taste good down at Sheepdrove Organic Farm.

And here the Sheepdrove team pass on a few handy hints to help you prepare that perfect traditional festive bird, the turkey.

The great challenge when cooking a turkey is that the breast meat is always done before the legs are cooked through, so the breast is usually overcooked and dried out by the time the legs are really tender.

The ultimate solution is undoubtedly to roast turkey as Sheepdrove recommend roasting chicken, that is, breast down, as this method keeps the breast moist and juicy during the time it takes to cook the dark meat until done. (Use rubber washing-up gloves for doing the turning!) However, while this is fine for a smaller turkey (up to 4kg), it’s rather a tricky task for bigger birds, especially if your bird is stuffed and not thoroughly trussed.

So, for simplicity’s sake, Sheepdrove say to roast big birds breast side up the whole time, relying on basting and shielding the breast with bacon and foil to preserve moisture and flavour.

Weight 2.5 kg, Cooking Time 1½ 2 hours, feeds 4–6
Weight 3–4 kg, Cooking Time 2–2½ hours, feeds 6–8
Weight 4.5–5.5 kg, Cooking Time 2½-3 hours, feeds 8–10
Weight 6–7.5 kg, Cooking Time 3–4 hours, feeds 10–12
Weight 8–9 kg, Cooking Time 4½-5 ½ hours, feeds 12–15
Weight 9 kg +, Cooking Time 6 hours+, feeds 15+

Note: Since ovens vary, we advise using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh which should register 75 C (165 F). Alternatively, be sure to refer to our testing for doneness guidelines.

Basting the bird
Regular basting is a must as it keeps the bird moist as well as improving the colour and flavour of the skin.

Resting the roast
If you leave the roast to relax before carving, all the juices that have bubbled up to the surface will seep back and ensure the bird is moist and succulent. Let rest in the roasting tin or a warmed platter in a warm place (not in a draught) loosely covered with foil.

Testing for doneness
Take a look at the bird, the legs and wings should be easily wobbly. With a small, sharp knife, pierce right down into the thickest part of the thigh, where it is closest to the breast. If the juices run pink, then the bird is not yet cooked through so return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, then check again. When the juices run clear, it is ready to be rested and served. If using a meat thermometer, the temperature should reach 75 C (165 F).

You can order superb organic meat from Sheepdrove all year round... from turkeys and chicken to beef, lamb and pork.

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