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THE GREAT CHRISTMAS DEBATES

Which side are you on?

Peace and goodwill to all?

It’s the jolliest time of the year and the liveliest when it comes to domestic debates. So much to decide, so many people to please: cosy up at home or trek to your partner’s parents? Glamorous goose or trad turkey? Post-lunch telly and the joy of elasticated trousers or family games? It can all get more prickly than holly and as heated as the flaming pudding. We’ve taken on the big questions, asked experts (and you!) to give your views, and presented enough evidence to put those arguments to bed once and for all. Read on and make this your most harmonious celebration yet

COMPILED BY KERRY FOWLER

LEG OR BREAST?

DARK MEAT V WHITE MEAT It’s a debate that divides. The cognoscenti swear by dark meat. That said, a perfectly cooked, succulent turkey breast from a quality bird (see p132) is a thing of beauty…

PROF THOMPSON GIVES US THE SCIENCE

● Turkey breast meat is pale because the muscle is mainly made up of ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibres, which are almost colourless. These are best for short bursts of power (like the short hops of turkeys). The leg muscles have a higher concentration of ‘slow-twitch’ muscle fibres, which are better for prolonged walking/running. An iron-rich, red-brown protein called myoglobin transports oxygen to these muscles, giving them a darker, redder colouration.

● White meat is naturally more tender and contains less collagen (the tough, stringy bits) than dark meat, which in free-range turkeys is also toughened by a lot of walking. The two types of meat also cook at different rates and are ready to eat at different temperatures: breast meat at an internal temperature of about 65°C and leg meat at about 72°C. So cook the legs perfectly and you’ll have dry breast meat. Cook the breast to moist perfection and you risk undercooked legs.

That’s why Michel Roux’s confit legs and roast turkey crown (above) is clever – see deliciousmagazine.co.uk/confit. The legs are cooked for 3½ hours at 140°C and the crown (breast) is roasted for 2 hours at 160°C. More work, but everyone’s happy.

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About Delicious Magazine

Make your Christmas and New Year the best ever with our December issue. Shopping’s a breeze with our last-minute gifts, drinks advice and festive taste test. On the sweet side, there’s cake decoration, Scandi baking recipes and 16 pages of showstopper puddings. The River Cottage’s Gill Meller rustles up a fish pie, Theo Randall slow-cooks Italian beef stew and Raymond Blanc makes the best party canapés. For a stress-free Christmas day cook our classic turkey lunch with timeplan or squash and chestnut vegetarian wellington, then roast our cover ham for Boxing Day. Finally, see out the festive season with our recipes for leftovers. Happy Christmas – guaranteed!
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