OK, so it's not quite December, but thoughts are inevitably turning to Christmas dinner preparation for many of us - and how we're going to make the turkey taste half decent as the centrepiece.
I've never had that much luck in cooking a turkey to perfection in a conventional oven over the years. The meat has a tendency to go terribly dry, and I dream of making a juicy bird come December 25.
But it can become part of the overall oven stress when you're trying to juggle a massive turkey alongside stuffing, roast potatoes and pigs-in-blankets on the shelves. So this year, buoyed by seeing others showing off their results online, I've decided to do a test run of turkey in the slow cooker.
Now, I'm a big fan of my trusty old slow cooker. It might be that old that it doesn't have a brand name on it, or indeed any kind of settings aside from "on or off" but it still makes a mean stew.
But I've never really used it for cooking a full meat joint before, so I wasn't sure quite how the turkey crown I purchased would work out.
I've seen various recipes on the internet suggesting sticking onions, garlic or carrot underneath the turkey before you set it off. But I was a bit low on supplies of veg, so I thought I'll just stick it in with some butter and a sprinkle of thyme on top.
Now the recommended cooking time in the slow cooker for a fresh meat joint the size I had is six hours on slow. The turkey joint I was using was around about 1.2kg.
But for some unknown reason I thought "hmm, I'll round it up to eight hours then".
I remember when I was a child that my mother would get up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve to set off our turkey in the oven as part of a near 12 hour festive prep process. So I think perhaps I've always kept that feeling of "must make sure it's not raw" in my head.
But then I forgot to take it off the heat so it was actually slow cooking away for more like ten hours. I was stuck in the stew mindset of the "longer the better" I think.
Really, I just need to invest in a meat thermometer so I can ensure that the meat is cooked in future without the need to overcook it.
When I got it out to carve though, it smelt delicious and it looked, actually, not bad. There was a bit of a browning to it, and I imagine if you really want that crispy skin look, you could bob it under the grill for ten minutes or so.
I wasn't worried about presentation on this November outing of the turkey, because I simply wanted to see if it tasted better than my usual turkey efforts. As I sliced it up, it looked so moist and a little bit flaky but stayed in good large slices, I really thought I could be on to a winner here.
So did it taste nice? Well, clearly I had overcooked it hadn't I?
When I ate the first piece upon the first couple of chews I thought: "Oo, nice flavour here" then chew chew a bit more "oh it's a bit dry".
However, once it was slathered in gravy, it actually tasted really quite, quite delicious. It had a rich meaty and slight herby flavour, presumably from the slow cooking process, butter and thyme.
For me, the fact I could just stick it in the slow cooker with minimal effort, a blob of butter and sprinkle of thyme is the big selling point. For my next attempt I'll reduce the cooking time, sit it on some vegetables, and invest in a meat thermometer I think.
But, for a first attempt at it, I was pretty pleased - and feel that this could be the way to go to cook my turkey for the main event on Christmas Day to free up the conventional oven for all the side dishes.
I also used the remaining slow cooker turkey meat the following day for a classic turkey curry, and it held up well to that challenge too.2023-11-19T05:50:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd