When it comes to cooking the Christmas turkey just right, even the best chefs have their work cut out.
Heating the meat through thoroughly without overcooking it takes skill, and most people will have ended up with a disappointingly dry turkey on those inevitable occasions when the process goes wrong.
Luckily, this year a top chef has stepped in and shared his secret to getting the Christmas Dinner centrepiece just right every time, with plenty of time for you to prep ahead of the big day.
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MasterChef Professionals finalist Aaron Middleton has a simple secret to getting the turkey just right – and all it takes is a meat probe and a bit of careful timing.
The 27-year-old told other aspiring chefs: “If you have a meat probe, cook it up to 63 degrees.
“If you cook turkey to 63 degrees then hold it for 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, all salmonella is eradicated.
“So you’ll get something that’s actually tender and you’re not picking it off the bones.”
Aaron said learning to effectively use a meat probe to monitor the temperature of turkey and other meat mains is a game-changer when it comes to cooking meat perfectly.
The chef described how anyone looking to hone their skills in the kitchen needs to master a solid understanding of how long you can cook proteins for them to be safe to eat.
“Just have a little look online,” said Aaron, who added: “Understanding what’s safe and what’s not is a great step in the right direction.”
As for how to prep your Christmas turkey before you get it in the oven, Aaron has a tip for that, too.
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“If you’ve got time to brine it before you cook it, that’s a great idea,” said Aaron, who added: “Four percent salt for four hours.”
After that, said the talented chef, “It’s all about the condiments.
“Get yourself some good bread sauce, or make yourself a good bread sauce.”
He concluded: “Good cooking on the turkey, good flavour on the condiments, then the rest as is.”
This kind of no-frills approach to making the most of the raw, organic ingredients is what Aaron is all about.
“You don’t have to overcomplicate anything,” said the chef, “The days of long, laborious fifteen hour processes to make one element I think are going slowly out the window.”
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Instead, the chef said he has learnt to prioritise: “Clarity of flavour, staying true to produce and season, and trying to get as close to nature as you possibly can, seeing that in its rawest form go out in really elegant dishes.”
Over the course of his decade-long career, Aaron Middleton has worked under Raymond Blanc and Gary Jones in their Michelin-starred restaurants, served under chef Brett Graham at London’s The Ledbury, spent a year as head chef for Sir Richard Branson at his residence on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, and now works as a private chef for a family in Oxford.
Aaron’s Jonny Cake and slow-cooked pork burger with rum punch, followed by his signature benito butter-poached lobster tail, lobster and scallop mousse ravioli went down a treat in the semi finals of MasterChef Professionals, taking him through to the finals this week.
MasterChef: The Professionals, The Finals is on tonight (Tuesday, December 14) and then Wednesday and Thursday at 9pm on BBC One.
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