Normally I try not to start thinking about Christmas until at least the first of December. Yes, I know the decorations are already up in our shopping centres and our social media timelines are chock full of festive cheer, but it just seems wrong to be talking about Christmas until the first door of the Advent calendar has been peeled open.
Which is why it felt very strange to be roasting a turkey in November for this review. But at the end of the day, it’s really only a rather large relative of the chicken, so why consign it to just a couple of days in December? Our friends in the States will be consuming vast amounts of turkey this week after all to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Copas Traditional Turkeys is a small family business that has been producing free range, hand-plucked and game-hung turkeys just for Christmas for the last half a century. Based in the beautiful Berkshire countryside, Copas has a reputation for combining centuries old production methods with state-of-the-art facilities, as well as taking their time for a superior taste.
All too often turkeys are deemed ‘ready’ when they reach the popular weight categories, rather than on their age. The industry standard is around two months old, whereas Copas turkeys are five to seven months old when their countryside rambles come to an end. According to Tom and Brenda Copas this is why their turkeys have denser meat and superior fat cover. It also means Copas turkeys don’t need to be basted, buttered or covered with bacon to retain their succulence.
As the turkeys are dry plucked (apparently a very time-consuming and labour intensive affair), they are kept dry and can therefore be hung like other game birds. Copas turkeys are hung for two weeks, which is said to give them a more intense depth of flavour.
Having read all this, you can see why I was up for putting a Copas turkey to the test, even if it is still November! And I can confirm that all the Copas family claims about their turkeys are spot on. Very often I avoid turkey as it can be such a bland, uninteresting meat, but this turkey was absolutely packed full of flavour, quite gamey in taste in fact. I slow-roasted our bird in the Aga overnight, which meant it was beautifully moist and made preparing the rest of the meal the next day nice and easy. Tips on slow-roasting in the Aga are below, along with my recipes for spiced bread sauce, Marsala and redcurrant gravy and Brenda Copas’ turkey stock.
Check out the Copas Turkeys online shop at www.copasturkeys.co.uk – as well as whole turkeys, you’ll also find crowns, stuffed breast rolls and crowns, as well as luxury hampers, cheeses, cooked meats and accompaniments.
Copas’ smallest sized bronze turkey (4kg) kept our family of four in meals for a few days, and at £89 it might sound on the pricey side but I’d say it was worth every penny.
Enter the giveaway
If you’d like to win yourself a delicious 6kg free range bronze turkey from Copas (worth £110) as the centrepiece for a Christmas lunch to remember, simply click on the link below to enter via Rafflecopter and leave a comment below say why you’d like to try a Copas turkey. This giveaway is open to people with a UK postal address only and runs until Tuesday 15 December 2015. The lucky winner’s turkey will be delivered on Tuesday 22 December.
And now time for some recipes…
Aga slow roast turkey
Season the turkey, before lifting into a large roasting pan. (As Copas turkeys have a higher fat content than most other turkeys, they don’t need to be buttered.) Leave untrussed and cover loosely with foil.
Place the turkey in the Roasting Oven for 20 minutes, then transfer to the Simmering Oven – on the grid shelf on the floor.
3.6-4.5kg (8-10lb) about 8-10 hours
5-7.25kg (11-16lb) about 9-12 hours
7.5-10kg (17-22lb) about 10-14 hours
To check whether the turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer and if the juices run clear, then the turkey is done. If they are tinged with pink, then cook for a little longer. For piece of mind, use a meat thermometer.
You can cook your turkey a little ahead of time; keep it covered in a cool place. Uncover and return to the Roasting Oven for 30 minutes before serving to reheat and crisp up.
Spiced bread sauce
a knob of butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ tsp ground allspice
1 star anise
¾ pint milk
splash of double cream
100g white breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion gently for about 10 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the spices and cook for another minute before stirring in the milk and cream. When the milk starts to boil, remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Season to taste.
Keep warm until required.
Brenda Copas’ turkey stock
1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
a sprig of rosemary
Remove the giblets from the bag supplied with your turkey and wash thoroughly under running cold water.
Place all the ingredients in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 hours, then strain.
Cool and store in the fridge overnight or use straightaway to make gravy or soup.
Marsala and redcurrant gravy
1 tbsp cornflour
a decent glug of Marsala wine (port or red wine are also good)
500ml turkey stock
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (or cranberry sauce)
Once the turkey is cooked and resting, scoop off the fat from the liquid in the roasting pan and stir the cornflour into the remaining meat juices.
Place the roasting pan on the hob over a medium heat and pour in the Marsala. Stir well to deglaze the pan, then pour in the stock. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken, then stir in the redcurrant jelly.
Strain into a gravy boat and keep warm until required.
Disclosure: we were supplied with a complimentary Copas turkey for review purposes. As always all views expressed are mine – and my family’s.