SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - During Christmas, apart from a well-festooned tree, a welcoming sight is a beautiful bird on a platter.
Should you be brave enough to cook your own turkey instead of buying a ready-cooked one, here are some pointers from Mrs Sarab Kapoor, 57-year-old veteran chef from Cold Storage.
And since preparing a turkey worthy of being a centrepiece is not as simple as unwrapping the bird and chucking it into the oven, Mrs Kapoor shares five tips to help you turn into a kitchen goddess this Christmas.
Get the right turkey for your party size.
For four to six people, buy a turkey weighing 3kg to 4.5kg.
A medium-sized bird (4.5kg to 5.4kg) feeds six to eight people.
For eight to 10 people, get a turkey of about 5.5kg to 6.3kg.
Order your turkey in the first week of December, before the turkeys are sold out.
Defrost the turkey for two hours before putting it into the oven.
According to Mrs Kapoor, it is crucial for the oven to be preheated to "about 176 deg C for 30 minutes so that the turkey will roast evenly".
While waiting for the oven to warm up, remove the turkey from the vacuum-packed bag.
Don't discard the bag just yet as Cold Storage prints instructions on the bags for easy reference.
Next, remove the plastic netting covering the turkey.
Mrs Kapoor said the netting is to give the turkey a "grilled" look. "But never put it in the oven as it will melt," she cautioned.
Remove the plastic wrap that holds the turkey legs together. The wrap helps prevent the stuffing from falling out.
Place the turkey on a sheet of aluminium foil, breast side down.
"Other than keeping the stuffing in, breast meat tends to be dry," explained Mrs Kapoor.
"So by placing the turkey upside down, it prevents the meat from overcooking , keeping it moist as the juices will accumulate on the breast meat as it cooks."
Cut two pieces of aluminium foil, each measuring two and a half times the length of the turkey. These pieces are for wrapping the turkey.
The bird should not be wrapped too tightly so that its skin doesn't stick to the foil.
Do not discard the parson's nose - some of your guests may like it because of its fatty taste.
Roast the turkey at 176 deg C for about 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes.
Once it is ready, take it out of the oven and flip it over on a platter to prepare it for garnishing.
Mrs Kapoor said there are no rules for garnishing, so play with colours and be different, use fruits and edible flowers.
"Do not use apples or avocados as they will turn brown," she advised.
"My motto is 'You eat with your eyes first.'"
Turkey carving is a skill to behold.
Hold the turkey down with your left hand and break a wing and leg using the right, bending it backwards and outwards.
Using a carving fork and knife, carve parallel to the turkey, cutting thin slices from where the wing used to be, making your way to the breast bone.
Place the leg and wing on a separate plate.
Mrs Kapoor stressed that one "must not remove the legs and wings from both sides of the turkey at the same time" as this would cause the bird to go dry.
"We want the meat to remain moist," she explained.
"The thin slices should not be fanned out on the plate but should overlap to prevent drying.
"Carve only when you are ready to serve.
"And if you follow these tips, you'll be serving up the perfect turkey."