Amateur chefs who get flustered while preparing their Christmas turkey can relax this year after a free helpline was launched offering last-minute cooking tips.
The Turkey Hotline has been set up by the British Turkey Federation (BTF) to help cooks negotiate any pitfalls they might encounter in roasting their festive bird.
A team of eight experts are on hand to offer advice on defrosting, cooking times and carving techniques until 5pm on Christmas Eve.
They expect to deal with several hundred callers a day on turkey-related issues in the lead up to Christmas. A spokesman for the BTF said many first time roasters do not know which end of the bird to stuff, or how long a turkey should be in the oven for.
Half of them deliberately leave the bird in for longer than they should to kill any bugs, he added. Confusion over cooking the perfect turkey has been exacerbated by conflicting methods proposed by celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith.
Lawson has insisted that cooking a 6.5kg (14lb 5oz) turkey for only two hours and 45 minutes is perfectly adequate to deliver moist, succulent and tasty meat.
Meanwhile, Smith suggests that the correct cooking time for the bird, assuming it is stuffed, should be four hours and 50 minutes.
The Food Standards Agency, the government watchdog, offers yet another “safe” cooking time – four hours and 20 minutes.
The Turkey Hotline is on 0800 783 9994