Pre-ordering the Christmas turkey is something our household has been doing for a few years now and it spares a great deal of time and effort from trawling the supermarket shelves to then take your pick of what’s left of the selection. What could be a nicer way to kick off Christmas weeks in advance than with a cosy Sunday afternoon browse of the M&S Christmas food catalogue, armed with a steaming cup of tea, Sharpie poised and Post-It Notes at the ready?
The Christmas turkey range from Marks & Spencer has produced us with some pretty reliable birds over the years that have all cooked exceedingly well but varied in terms of on-the-plate satisfaction. Having dabbled with various stuffed whole turkeys over the years, our default go-to option is the Free range butter basted turkey breast joint (£32) which is an absolute bargain for feeding 8-10 people and comes prepared in a large foil tray ready to sling in the oven with the minimum of effort. As a breast joint (also known as a crown), it’s also super quick and easy to carve, leaving nothing wasted and a swift turnaround at serving time. A crown also cooks quicker and more evenly as you’re not having to risk dry breast meat while waiting for the legs to finish cooking all the way through.
The downsides? A crown joint won’t offer the morsels of brown meat found in the legs that a full bird would do, and there’s no carcass to make delicious stock with. The oven-ready tray leaves no room for snuggling roasties around the bird in the oven – but cooking them separately gives you better browning control on the bird and potatoes so no great loss. If you’re a showman, the crown isn’t as impressive as bringing a plump, bronzed bird to the table for carving – but I do all this in the kitchen anyway.
Pro-tip: The stuffed birds, have, in my experience, been less of a success on the plate as the stuffing texture doesn’t hold up so well in the carving process. The stuffing tends to spill out of each slice, making a bit of a mess on your carving board and plate.
Check out the full Marks and Spencer Christmas Food to Order range