Mary Berry’s ‘old sleeping bag’ hack for her Christmas turkey

Mary Berry reveals method she uses to keep turkey warm

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Many households up and down the country will be making one of Mary Berry’s recipes over the Christmas period. But how does she cook a turkey? The nation’s favourite cook joined Nick Grimshaw and Angela Harnett on Waitrose’s podcast, Dish, where she explained how she places her turkey in a sleeping back once it’s cooked to keep it warm before it needs to be carved. 

Mary explained: “I really love Christmas and I’ve done a few Christmasses in my time. 

“This Christmas we’re going to our daughter’s, (Annabel) and she’s said what we’re all doing – I’m doing the turkey. 

“I roast the turkey at home, and I’ve learned not to overcook it. So many times, even I have overcooked it.

“This time I’m cooking it without foil, I shall cover it with foil once it’s done, and then I shall put some tea towels over the top.

“I’ve got an old sleeping bag that’s got no zip and I put that over the top in the corner of the kitchen and then I shall take that in the back of the car to Annabel’s,” she revealed. 

Nick exclaimed: “A sleeping bag? On a turkey?” And Mary replied: “Why not.” 

Angela explained the science behind using a sleeping bag and said: “It’s insular, it’ll keep it nice and warm.” 

“Nick, once you take it [turkey] out of the oven, it goes on cooking,” Mary added. “And so you want to insulate that.

“I shall pop it in the back of the car inside its sleeping bag and we’ll be having drinks and lots of jollity until we need to carve it.”

Mary also likes to “use a meat thermometer when cooking this as it helps to judge when the turkey is done”. 

She suggests cooking the turkey to an internal temperature of “75-80 degrees celsius rather than the 90 degrees celsius suggested on the thermometer gauge”.

When working out what time to put the turkey into the oven, the cook recommends allowing at least 30 minutes for the bird to rest.

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Mary likes to flavour her turkey with butter, lemon, a few small sprigs of fresh thyme, and lemon and thyme pork stuffing with onion. 

If using Mary’s method with a sleeping bag, the turkey can “sit like this for up to two hours and still be piping hot when carved”. 

While the turkey is resting, it gives anyone cooking a chance to get the pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and gravy ready. 

When it comes to carving a turkey, Mary said: “I find it easier to carve one side of the turkey first. 

“Take off one leg and cut in half to give a drumstick and thigh. Carve the meat from the leg – you may find this easier with a smaller knife – and slice the thigh meat. 

“Cut the wing off the bird as close to the breast as possible, then slice the breast meat on the diagonal, including some stuffing. 

“Arrange the meats and slice stuffing on a serving platter so everyone can have a little light meat from the breast and dark meat from the legs,” she told readers in her Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection book. 

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