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Which size bird should I buy?

Turkey: Allow 450g (1lb) per person, weighed when plucked and drawn.

Allow 225g (8oz) per person, for boned and breast-only roasts.

Goose: Allow 900g (2lb) per person, weighed when plucked and drawn.
Allow 450g (1lb) per person, for boned and breast-only roasts.

This allows for second helpings and a manageable quantity of leftovers that can be safely used up within two to three days. 

Defrosting & Storing Frozen Birds

It is essential that you allow a frozen bird to defrost for the correct length of time:

Metric Imperial Thawing
2.25kg 5lb  20 hours
4.5kg 10lb 24 hours
6.75kg 15lb  28 hours
9kg 20lb 48 hours
11.25kg 25lb  48+ hours

Thaw the turkey in the coolest room – below 16°C (60°F). Remove packaging first, check regularly, once defrosted (no ice crystals remaining in the cavity and the legs are quite flexible), store covered, low down in the refrigerator at a temperature of no more than 5°C (40°F).



Remove the bag of giblets from inside a fresh bird as soon as you take delivery of it, or in the case of a frozen bird, as soon as they become loose during defrosting. Use them to make your own giblet stock ready for making incomparable gravy, it really is worth it and it’s so easy in the AGA simmering oven.

Wishbone Removal

A tip to make the carving more elegant is to remove the wishbone before cooking. This will vastly facilitate carving the breast giving you lovely even slices. Either ask your butcher to do this for you, or do it yourself using a very sharp knife.

  1. Cut carefully to avoid piercing the skin.
  2. Loosen the skin at the neck end and ease your fingers up between the breast and the skin.
  3. Cut the wishbone at the base end near the wing joints first.
  4. Cut up along the bone to remove from the flesh and loosen at the top, twisting to remove.
  5. You might like to consider asking your butcher to remove the leg tendons before roasting.

Beware cross contamination – after handling raw poultry wash all utensils, surfaces and your hands to prevent bacteria being transferred.


Prepare the stuffing ahead of time, and then refrigerate or freeze it, but stuff the bird with stuffing at room temperature just before you are ready to roast it. Additional stuffing can be cooked in a separate dish, and given several bastings of turkey roasting juices as it cooks. It is not recommended to truss a bird, this allows free circulation of heat to all parts. Use bathroom scales covered with cling film to weigh the stuffed bird.

  1. Season the insides of both cavities with salt and pepper and a generous amount of butter. In the interests of food safety with a turkey it is recommended to stuff the neck or breast end only.
  2. In the body cavity place a quartered peeled onion and lemon together with a stick of celery, a few batons of carrot with some sprigs of fresh parsley and thyme which will pervade the bird with aromatic flavour.
  3. Allow about 225g (8 oz) prepared stuffing for each 2.25 kg (5 lb) of dressed bird.
  4. Either use a homemade stuffing, or doctor two packets of a good quality Sage and Onion stuffing mix:
    a. Make up with boiling water as directed, adding a good knob of butter and plenty of seasoning.
    b. When quite cold, mix well with 900g (2 lb) of sausage meat (taken from good quality sausages)
  5. Stuffing must be cold before being used and it is recommended to stuff the bird just before cooking.
Turkey Crowns

A Turkey Crown has the legs, wing tips and back bone removed from the bird, leaving the double breasts still attached to the ribs and sternum. This is increasingly a popular choice these days, making for easy carving whilst retaining a traditional appearance on the Christmas dining or buffet table. If dark meat is liked, consider asking your butcher to make you a crown, and cook the legs separately, perhaps boned and then stuffed.

Back to the AGA Christmas Guide.

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