Preparing, cooking and carving Christmas turkey

preparing cooking and carving the perfect christmas dinner

You may have noticed that I’ve had a few Turkey chats with Marco Pierre White this year, a hangout back in March after which I made a Turkey Stir Fry on the table in 20 minutes, another Turkey talk with Marco just before the summer the result of which was Turkey Puff parcels and this time I got to meet him in the flesh in his swanky restaurant at Chelsea FC to find out all about preparing, cooking and carving the perfect Christmas turkey.

shed end Chelsea FC

My brothers have supported Chelsea since they could walk much to the annoyance of my Arsenal supporting dad and I have never visited the grounds before so it was a special venue for me too, hence the souvenir photo above.

marco pierre white restaurant london

The Marco Pierre White restaurant is sexy, it’s black and gold and glistens as all celebrity things should do. Even the loos are places of great beauty.

MPW restaurant London

But the whole day was about turkey and Christmas turkey, in fact how to prepare, cook and carve the perfect Christmas turkey.

Imagine the scene, 20+ giggling, excited women, some of whom with a major crush on Marco and yes he is a very captivating man. We were split into two groups to watch Marco show us how it’s done.

marco pierre white

There was no mistake who was in command here, he didn’t even have to say anything to create a silence in the room. I was really impressed with the power of his presence.

Preparation of a whole bird

  • Place a whole turkey on a chopping board and remove the giblets inside
  • Remove the wings – pull them out to the side so the skin is taut and cut as close to the crown as possible
  • Remove the legs – hold the leg at the joint, pull out to the side so the skin is taut, use a sharp knife and remove the entire leg as near to the crown as possible
  • Remove the turkey carcass. Turn the turkey so it is vertical, grip the top tightly and slice down the right and left of the back bone. Prise the back down so that it is flat and using the knife, cut across the top of the back to remove it completely, leaving just the turkey crown

or buy a crown of turkey ;)

marco pierre white preparing christmas turkey

Thigh joints

  • To separate the thigh joint from the leg, grip the bottom of the previously removed leg tightly and cut just above the joint.

Stuffing the turkey

  • To stuff the crown, pull back the skin slightly and insert the stuffing into the neck end only. Pull the skin back over the meat to seal it in place
  • To stuff the thigh joints, peel back the skin, insert the stuffing underneath and pull the skin back over to seal.

stuffing a turkey crown

Cooking the turkey

  • Remember – cook the turkey too slowly and it will dry out, cook too quickly and it won’t cook properly
  • Chop the wings, legs and carcass into small pieces and place at the bottom of two roasting trays, along with a knob of butter. This will allow the juices to collect in the tin, which can be used alter to make gravy
  • Preheat the oven to 160C
  • Cover the top of the crown and thigh joints in butter or sunflower oil and season with salt
  • Place the crown in one of the trays on top of the chopped bones and put in the oven on the top shelf. Place the two thigh joints into the second roasting tray on top of the bones and place on the bottom shelf.
  • Marco said for a 10lb turkey with all the bits removed as mentioned above cook in a pre heated oven to 180C (160 fan assisted) as follows. Crown for approx 1 hr 30 mins and thighs for approx 55 minutes. He was careful to add that each oven is different and times are only guidelines – test the meat.
  • Marco said that the best way to test your turkey is cooked is to use a meat probe, stick the probe into the thickest part of the meat to get the most accurate reading. When the breast reaches 66C and the thigh 72C the turkey is cooked to perfection.
  • If you don’t have a meat probe, insert a clean skewer into the thickest part of the thigh, if the juices run clear, the turkey is cooked. If pinkish, return to the oven for a little longer then re-test.
  • The tempertures and timings are Marco’s own based on his oven and turkey. Average cooking temperatures, times and more information can be found on Lean on Turkey

Carving the turkey

  • The first thing you need to do once you have taken the turkey out of the oven is wait.
  • Have a sharp good quality knife and be confident.
  • Crown
  • Firstly remove the stuffing from the crown. Carefully hold the stuffing with your finger tips and gently cut around it, slowly removing it from the bird.
  • Slice the turkey breast by cutting downwards and moving the knife lengthways in long diagonal strokes.
  • After carving to one side, turn the crown and start to carve the other side using the smae technique.
  • Marco’s tip – Make sure you use the full length of the knife in long, smooth motions to avoid pulling the slices back and forth which will cause the meat to break

carving the turkey

  • Thigh
  • Before carving remove the skin and the stuffing from the joints by slicing around the stuffing and gently removing it.
  • To carve the meat, hold the joint at the bone and run the knife down either side to remove it. Use your fingertips to gently hold the meat and carve lengthways

carving a turkey crown

Using the whole bird

Use the bones and giblets to make stock and gravy

marco pierre white and marianne whooley

For any leftovers check out my delicious

Turkey and ham pie

Turkey puff parcels

Turkey stir fry

and my favourite photo of the day

MPW glasses


Posts to follow the perfect turkey gravy and the Marco’s cranberry sauce


  1. MummyBarrow
    September 19, 2013 / 1:15 PM

    I love the angles on your pics. There was me thinking full on was best but your photos are brilliant!

    Wasnt it a great day? Feel like I can actually do Christmas lunch now!!

  2. September 19, 2013 / 1:19 PM

    excellent photos & descriptions…completely turned on!

  3. September 19, 2013 / 2:06 PM

    We usually cook our Thanksgiving turkey outside in a garbage can (sounds weird) but is delicious. Since we can’t do it for Thanksgiving, we will be doing it for Christmas. Video to come.

  4. September 20, 2013 / 10:59 AM

    What a lovely experience that must have been Mari. I’m soooo excited for Christmas! xxx

  5. Sarah Pylas
    September 20, 2013 / 2:48 PM

    I love Christmas but have never been brave enough to offer to host it. So much pressure! Your pics are stunning. Looks like a fab day out x

  6. Jenny Soppet-Smith
    September 20, 2013 / 9:11 PM

    Super photos Mari (I share the love of your favourite). I’m kind of a girl who’ll buy a turkey crown as there tends not to be many of us and I’m a bit wary about cooking everything through. As for carving – my meat tends to look like it’s been pulled apart rather than carved with style – I will follow the tips!

  7. September 20, 2013 / 10:23 PM

    You are making me want to go and practise. I always cheat and cook every other meat.

  8. November 4, 2013 / 4:23 PM

    Your photos are brill! This was such a fab day and it was really nice to have a proper chat with you. x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: