How to Buy a Turkey

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We asked Award-winning butcher John Young what he looks for in his birds at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

John Young of JJ Young Butchers in Celbridge runs the family business which is over 100 years old now, so he and his family have seen a lot of turkeys! His advice is to buy a hen (the flesh is softer) with a nice plump breast so you have lots to go round.

His preference is for a boned, rolled and roast turkey this Christmas. ‘You don’t have any waste’, he says, ‘and you can slice it easily. Over the years we’ve found that people are not looking for whole birds anymore, because they’re faced with the carcass on Stephen’s Day and it takes up too much room in the fridge’.

If you are buying a whole oven-ready turkey, John says that a 10lb turkey is sufficient for 6 people: ‘It’s plenty and you’ll still have the legs left over for the turkey curry the next day’. He says to keep in mind too, that you will be serving it with ham, which makes it go further.

John is always astounded at the sheer amount of food that people buy at Christmas. He tells his customers that if a large chicken is big enough for a family of 6 on a normal Sunday, why would you need more on Christmas Day? ‘We have people coming in to us asking, will we have enough in a 10lb turkey. We say to them: ‘Why would you want anything bigger if a large chicken usually does you?’.

(Why not buy a smaller turkey and donate the difference to the charity of your choice?)

Tips on buying a fresh turkey

– Buy a hen – the flesh is softer
– A nice plump breast (lots to go round)
– A 10lb turkey will do 6 people generously with lots left over
– A 5lb ham will feed 6 people with leftovers

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