Buying a British Christmas Turkey
Its that time of year again and everybody is getting ready for Christmas day. The festive season will be in full swing soon…. Christmas cards -tick, Christmas Presents -tick, Christmas tree -tick, and HAVE YOU ORDERED THE TURKEY???
Getting ready for Christmas Lunch
Although some people do choose goose, lamb or ham, turkey is the most popular. Carving the Turkey at Christmas lunch (or dinner) with a table brimming with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, and all the usual trimmings is traditional. Followed by a British Christmas pudding, mince pies, and Christmas cake.
Turkey for Christmas in England
It is thought that, the first turkeys started to be eaten at Christmas in England in the 16th century. There are references in ‘Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry‘ by the well known poet and farmer of the day, Thomas Tusser published in 1573.
King Henry VIII was known to have turkey for Christmas dinner.
Charles Dickens’ 1843 A Christmas Carol, immortalized the Turkey at Christmas. The reformed Ebenezer Scooge, presents Bob Cratchit with the biggest Turkey in the Shop.
Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?–Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”Ebenizer Scrooge
In the 18th century, before the introduction of the railways, thousands were walked to London in large flocks along what is now the A12.
Norfolk farmers would dip turkeys’ feet in tar and sand to make ‘wellies’ for the walk to London, which could take up to two months.
After the Second World War, it became cheaper to rear, that the turkey became the population’s Christmas bird of choice.
Geese and turkeys were, and still are, extensively reared in East Anglia.
Buy a British Turkey this Christmas
You can buy a British Free Range Heritage Narragansett Whole Turkey Large (5.26kg-6.51kg Serves 13-15) from Tesco. This heritage breed is reared in East Anglia and given a varied diet for extra flavour.
Great Taste Award winners Addlington Turkeys are in the West Midlands.
Galloway Turkeys – in Northern Ireland sell free range Bronze, Norfolk Blacks & White or traditional White barn reared.
Copas Turkeys in Berkshire, have been producing delicious bronze turkeys for the past 60 years.
Try award-winning Barra Bronze turkeys fed on home-grown oats, in the wilds of Lochend of Barra, Scotland. Delivered throughout the UK have won the Great Taste’ award 6 years in a row (2016-2021).
Which turkey to buy, a Norfolk Bronze turkey or a Norfolk Black?
So many options, which one to choose? Norfolk Black, Bronze? Many supermarkets do great turkeys but this is a great opportunity to support British Turkey farmers and order yours directly from them.
There are a range of breeds around the country. Most people think of a full breasted Norfolk Bronze, or the slightly gamier Norfolk Black.
Types of British Turkeys
- Norfolk Bronze
- Cambridge Bronze
- Norfolk Black
- British Free Range Heritage
- Narragansett Turkey
Why Free Range Turkeys
For a premium turkey, look for farmers who produce their turkeys to an extremely high standard. These turkeys are reared for longer (for around 26 weeks), compared to a standard turkey.
Turkey size guide
Getting the reight size turkey for the number of guests.
3-4kg – feeds up to 4 people
3-4kg – feeds up to 4 people
4.5kg -feeds up to 4-5 people
5kg – feeds up to 6 people
6kg – feeds up to 6-7 people
7kg – feeds up to 7-8 people
8kg – feeds up to 10-12 people
9-10kg – feeds up to 12-14 people
Cooking the perfect turkey
As a general rule, allow 15-20 minutes/lb for an oven ready bird and 30 minutes pre heat time and remember to let the bird rest once cooked for at least 30-45minutes.
Most Turkeys come with standard cooking instructions and if you buy a turkey from a local supplier they usually offer their own set of suggested cooking instructions and tips.
No Dry Meat
Get all the trimmings right to accompany your Turkey. Don’t forget the giblets 🙂 – ideal for making an extra-rich gravy while your turkey cooks
Stuffing – Gather all the herbs you need to make the traditional Christmas Stuffing.
Turkeys are thought to have first arrived in Britain in 1526. Brought by by Yorkshireman William Strickland whose family coat of arms — with a a turkey as the family crest — is among the earliest known European depictions of a turkey
There are 43 different breeds of turkey. The most common in the UK are standard white, bronze and Norfolk black breeds.
Last Christmas saw the UK consuming almost 16 million turkeys. (Source – Statista)
The world record fastest time to pluck three turkeys is 11 min 30.16 sec and was achieved by Paul Kelly of Kelly Turkeys, at Little Claydon Farm, Essex, United Kingdom, on 13 November 2008. This was attempted as part of Gordon Ramsay’s Cookalong show and Paul went head to head against Gordon Ramsay who plucked three turkeys in 11 min 31.78 sec.
Source: Guinness Book of Records