Is there anything better sitting down to a feast of Christmas delicacies? On December 25, dinner tables across the country will be heaving with Brussel Sprouts, stuffing, at least three types of potatoes, a honey glazed ham and, most importantly, a succulent turkey.
Of course, this much-anticipated meal does put a lot of pressure on the designated chef. In fact, according to new research from safefood, for 315,000 of us, this will be our first time cooking Christmas dinner - and 13% of us are nervous about the task ahead.
To give us a helping hand in the lead up to the big day, safefood teamed up with chef Paul Flynn to launch a Christmas food safety campaign.
Available on Facebook Messenger, Google Assist and Alexa, a helpful chatbot can answer any questions you might have ahead of Christmas or on the day itself; whether that's how to prepare and store your turkey, how long to cook it for and what to do with your leftovers.
Speaking on the campaign, Chef Paul Flynn said: "Preparation is key, so try to get vegetables prepared the day before so that your main focus on the day can be the turkey."
"A turkey is probably the largest food item that you will cook throughout the year so take the time before Christmas Day to work out how long it will need to cook using the turkey cooking time calculator."
Research showed that half of us will have a smaller gathering on Christmas Day this year with 27% purchasing a turkey crown and 17% purchasing a boned and rolled turkey. However 42% still plan to cook a full turkey.
With smaller groups of people coming together this year, leftovers might be plentiful. It is important that you remember to cool your leftover turkey and get it in the fridge within two hours of cooking, and leftovers should be eaten within three days.
Research for this year found that 12% of people keep their turkey for longer than this, some up to five days or more which can increase the risk of food poisoning. Leftovers should only be re-heated once so portion any leftover turkey for recipes you want to make.
Key food safety tips for cooking turkey:
- Get your fridge ready – clean it with warm soapy water and make space for your turkey.
- If your turkey is frozen, ensure you leave enough time to defrost it prior to cooking allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds/1.8-2.2kg. Defrost your turkey on dish or tray on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
- Don't wash your turkey as this can splash food poisoning bacteria around your kitchen through drips, drops and splashes - proper cooking will kill any germs present
- Raw poultry can contain germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter so it’s important to cook these foods thoroughly.
- For stuffed turkeys, build in extra cooking time to ensure the centre is thoroughly cooked. Ideally, cook your stuffing in a separate dish.
- Remember to check that the turkey is cooked at the end of the cooking period by pricking the thickest part of the joint with a skewer and making sure that the juices run clear, the turkey is piping hot the whole way through and there is no pink meat left and if you have a meat thermometer the thickest part of the turkey should read 75ºC when it is safe to eat.
If you're looking for more food safety tips, visit safefood.net/Christmas.