20 Dec 2018
David Morton, Tesco turkey technologist, describes his role in helping to offer high quality turkeys to Tesco customers this Christmas.
It’s fair to say I spend all year thinking about Turkey.
It’s my job at Tesco to look after our birds, which, considering we sold more than 600,000 last year, is no small feat. For me my role is pretty simple; the better we look after our turkeys, the tastier the meat they produce for our customers.
I spend all year working closely with our farmers, visiting each of them personally, and building long-lasting relationships, we’ve been working with some farms for 30 years. Relationships are important, that way we know our birds are reared by farmers we trust to meet our strict welfare standards.
All of our fresh turkeys are British and are Red Tractor approved, meaning you can be sure you're buying turkey farmed in the UK to high standards of food safety, traceability and animal welfare. We are committed to working responsibly in this area and we also have our own industry leading Tesco Welfare standards for our farmers and producers – it’s all about giving our customers peace of mind.
Our Tesco Finest turkeys are free range and raised on British farms where they have plenty of room to roam, eat fresh grass and forage naturally.
For the last two years we’ve worked with one of our award-winning farmers in East Anglia to bring back a breed of premium heritage variety that had not been commercially sold in the UK for more than 70 years. The Narragansett turkey, which was bred by crossing old English breeds together was selected because of its unique, flavoursome taste and is now a customer favourite.
Day in, day out I see the love, care and attention that goes into rearing and preparing our birds so it’s important to me they’re chosen wisely and cooked correctly, When it comes to cooking we know it’s not always a success - with 11 percent of Christmas cooks admit to having had a turkey disaster. Turkey should be a real treat and one of the highlights of Christmas Day! So my advice is simple:
- Whatever you do, keep your turkey cold until you’re ready to cook. Below 4 degrees Celsius to be safe and maintain quality. Store in the bottom of the fridge - or if you’d rather freeze it, do so as soon as possible. Definitely no later than the use by date. If you have to, take the fizz out to make space. You can pop it back in while the turkey’s cooking!
- Always defrost your turkey in the fridge, never at room temperature. It’ll usually be done in 25-45 hours, but a larger bird could take longer. Check the packaging for info specific to your turkey.
- Your turkey’s packaging should also include clear instructions on how best to prepare and cook your bird. A rule of thumb is to make sure the juices run clear before you carve. Then serve, savour and revel in the compliments about your well-cooked centrepiece.