Cooking a turkey isn’t a simple task, and if the thought of serving a whole bird for Christmas sounds stressful to you, consider serving just a turkey crown instead.
What Is A Turkey Crown?
The crown is essentially the top part of the turkey, with the legs, wings, and undercarriage removed and only the heart-shaped breasts remaining on the breast bone. The breast bones are left to retain the shape and regular appearance of a roasted turkey.
Why Cook A Turkey Crown?
Many small families opt for a crown joint to avoid the risk of having too many leftovers after the holiday meal.
Other advantages of using only the crown are that it’s easier to fit inside your oven, it takes up less room in the fridge or freezer, and it’s a lot simpler to prepare. Crowns are also quicker to cook and easier to carve.
What Size Turkey Crown Should I Get?
Use the guidelines below to estimate how much you will need – these estimations are from the calculator found at the British Poultry Council.
2kg – 4 servings
2.5kg – 6 servings
3.5kg – 8 servings
4.5kg – 10 servings
5.5kg – 12 servings
6.5kg – 14 servings
Before making your purchase, determine exactly how many people you’re having for dinner and if you’d like a certain amount left over for lunch or other meals the next day or so.
A good guideline would be to allocate 300 grams for every adult, then add any necessary number of grams for curry, sandwiches, and other preparations in the following days.
Tip: Make sure you have a big enough tin to fit your turkey crown in – and a big enough oven!
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Turkey Crown?
2kg – 1 hr 50 minutes
2.5kg – 2 hrs
3.5kg – 2 hrs 20 minutes
4.5kg – 3 hrs
5.5kg – 3 hrs 20 minutes
6.5kg – 3 hrs 40 minutes
The above times were taken using the calculator at the British Poultry Council
Do You Keep The Net On A Turkey Crown When Cooking?
Yes, keep the net in place on the turkey crown during the cooking time. The net helps to support the turkey and promote more even cooking.
How Do You Cook A Frozen Turkey Crown?
Cooking a turkey crown from frozen will depend on where you bought it from. Some turkey crowns are not suitable to cook from frozen – always check the label on the packaging, or if you are buying from a butcher, ask them.
For example, a frozen turkey crown from Iceland is suitable to cook from frozen with a 2.2kg frozen crown turkey taking 3 hours 30 minutes in the oven.
How Long Does It Take To Defrost A Turkey Crown?
Turkeys take a long time to thaw.
The best way is to defrost it in the fridge. Allow 12 hours of thawing per kilo of meat.
So for a 4kg turkey crown, that’s 2 days in the fridge.
Be sure to factor those hours in when making your dinner preparations. Also, be sure to take the turkey out of the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking.
You can defrost a turkey outside of the fridge, as long as the room is cool and stays below 17.5C. Allow 4 hours per kg.
So, for a 4kg turkey crown, that’s 16 hours.
It’s really important to make sure the turkey crown is completely thawed through before cooking it – use a sharp knife and insert it in the thickest part of the meat
How To Keep A Turkey Crown Moist
To stop the turkey crown from drying out, loosely cover it in tin foil. This will also prevent the skin from burning before the meat is cooked.
Also, as mentioned in the instructions, make sure you use a fat – this will also help to keep the meat moist. Adding butter or bacon is good to help with this.
For a truly moist, succulent, and tasty turkey, consider soaking it in brine beforehand. Brining turkey for 12 to 24 hours before cooking helps the meat absorb extra moisture and get additional seasoning. The salt in the brine will also help break down the meat’s proteins, making it much softer.
Cooking the bird upside down would yield a very moist, tender breast meat. Many chefs attest to it. But don’t forget to turn the crown back up during the last 30 minutes to brown the top.
How Long Does Cooked Turkey Last?
Cooked turkey leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 days, and up to 4 months in the freezer.
Top tip: Before cooking the turkey crown, check your oven. Most units work differently after a few years of regular use. The temperature shown in the display may not match the actual heat in the oven anymore. If you have the means, this would be a good time to invest in a meat thermometer to save you the stress of guesswork and overcooking your special Christmas dinner.
How To Cook A Turkey Crown
1. Set your cooking time. Preheat your oven to 180C (Fan) Gas mark 5. The cooking time will largely depend on your bird’s weight. Ask your butcher, or check the packaging from the supermarket for specific instructions. But as a guide, you should allow 30 minutes per kg, plus 1 hour and 15 minutes.
That means, for a 4kg crown, it would take around 3 hours and 15 minutes to roast.
If you’re cooking the crown with stuffing inside, you’ll have to factor that into the computation. Calculate the cooking time with both the turkey and the stuffing together.
2. Add fat and flavour. Turkeys are dry, lean birds – particularly the breast meat. So you’ll need to add fat when cooking them to keep their meat moist. Some turkey crowns are already stuffed or wrapped with bacon when you purchase them from the supermarket or butcher. If yours isn’t, be sure to add the fat yourself: butter or bacon would be best.
If you’re using butter, flavour it with pureed or finely chopped garlic, fresh herbs like thyme or parsley, and lemon zest.
Add some olive oil to keep the butter from burning, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey’s cavity with salt and pepper, too.
Next, slather generous amounts of the flavoured butter on the skin of the bird, as well as underneath by lifting and gently loosening the skin with your fingers and pushing slivers of the butter in there, directly on the meat.
If you’re using bacon, lay the rashes side by side over the bird, or create a lattice of overlapping swathes. The bacon will ooze fat and seep into the turkey’s skin, helping keep the rest of the meat moist. Remove the strips later, during the last 20 minutes of roasting, if you want your turkey’s skin to be brown and crispy when cooked.
3. Keep it covered. The key to cooking a great turkey is to keep it as moist as possible while cooking. To do that, wrap the crown in tin foil to prevent it from drying out and to protect the meat’s skin from burning. Wrap the foil loosely and in such a way that the joint is at the top so you can easily open it up later for basting and browning.
Place the bird in a roasting tray in the centre of the oven and start cooking.
4. Baste. Baste the turkey with the juices in the roasting tray once or twice during cooking. Around 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, open the foil and increase the temperature to 200C (Fan)/Gas Mark 6 for the skin to brown and turn crispy.
5. Check. Poke a skewer or a sharp pointed knife inside the thickest part of the breast. Hold a spoon to catch the juice as it runs out. If the juice is clear instead of pink, it’s likely your turkey is done. If not, put it back into the oven and check periodically.
If you have a meat thermometer, pull the meat out of the oven once it hits the 70C internal temperature.
6. Rest. Once cooked, remove the turkey from the oven, and leave it on the kitchen counter to “rest”. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices to be drawn back into the crown, keeping it tender and juicy. Leave it for at least half an hour, still wrapped in foil to keep the moisture locked inside. Most chefs recommend a longer resting time of about 2 hours, with Gordon Ramsey advising an equal amount of time resting it as you did cooking it. Don’t worry about the meat going cold; keeping it wrapped in foil and a clean tea towel will prevent that from happening.