IT’S the same every year. No matter how much attention you pay to getting the turkey just right, somehow it ends up dry, tough and unappetising. Is it any wonder that the family have developed a turkey-phobia by Boxing Day?

So what’s the secret to choosing and cooking the right bird?

Geoff Riley who with his wife Paula, owns Riley’s butchers and deli – last year’s North of England Top Butcher Shop – at Crawshawbooth, Rossendale, divulges a few industry secrets to help us get it right.

Choose the right bird

For taste, a free range, bronze turkey is best. The combination of traditional farming methods, fresh air, exercise and a more natural diet makes the meat more moist than other breeds. Keep in mind how many you are cooking for; ½ kilo per serving is perfect. Don’t worry if you leave it late, we’ll always do our best to accommodate last minute shoppers – even if it’s Christmas Eve!

Stuff it!

If you do choose to stuff, only stuff the neck cavity. A peeled, halved onion is all that is required in the turkey cavity to compliment the flavour of the meat.

Top taste tip – less is more

Keep it simple by only adding a little salt. Bronze turkeys are moist and firm in texture due to natural methods of raising. If you follow Geoff’s advice, your bird is sure to taste delicious on its own.

Cook to perfection

Temperature and timing are key. Pre-heat the oven to 210c/gas mark 7 and cook the turkey at this heat for the first 30 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 170c/gas mark 4 for the remaining cooking time. Cooking time is approx 35 minutes per kg for turkeys up to 6.5 kg, and 30 minutes per kg for turkeys over 6.5kg.

For best results cook the turkey upside down until the last 30 minutes, when the skin will just brown off. Stab the thigh – if the juices run clear, it’s ready.

Correct condiments

You can’t go wrong with a cranberry sausage or a Riley’s secret recipe preserve sausage.

Sides by celebrity chef Felice Tocchini

CELEBRITY Italian chef Felice Tocchini – famed for his numerous TV appearances and the sprout cake he invented to get children to eat this maligned vegetable – offers the perfect accompaniment to Riley’s turkey.

He says: “Decorate the dinner table this season with a colourful Christmas side dish. A delicious blend of bright orange sweet potatoes and emerald sprouts, complimented with golden chestnuts and crimson cranberries. This unique vegetable medley is dressed to impress.”

Felice, who has been working with Jean Christophe Novelli to promote sweet potatoes, says: “This quick-fix dish is not only rich in colour, but also in flavour, and serves as the perfect plate to brighten up any festive spread.”

The Love Sweet Potatoes campaign is intended to inform consumers about the benefits of cooking with sweet potatoes and encourage them to try new recipes featuring the vegetable.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Sprouts, Chestnuts and Cranberries Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 10-15 minutes Ingredient s (serves 4) 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes 250g sprouts (if large, cut them in half) 100g cooked and peeled chestnuts 75g fresh cranberries or 50g dried cranberries 2tsp honey 1/2tsp fennel seeds 1 garlic head 4 sprigs thyme Extra virgin rapeseed oil Cracked black pepper Stock or water 50g butter 1 bay leaf Method 1 Heat up a heavy- bottomed pan and add the fennel seeds. Cover and dry them out for a couple of minutes, making sure that they do not burn.

2 Add the sprouts, sweet potatoes, the garlic head (cut in half), bay leaf and the thyme. Cover and shake the pan so that the vegetables will warm up but not burn.

3 Add a little stock and cover. The steam will start to cook the vegetables.

4 You might need to repeat step 3 a couple of times, depending on how cooked you like your vegetables (make sure that the pan is dry before adding more stock).

5 When the vegetables are cooked to your liking, add the chestnuts, and warm them up.

6 Remove from the fire; add the cranberries, honey, butter, some rapeseed oil and the black pepper. Toss altogether, adjust the seasoning and serve.

TOP TIP If using dry cranberries, boil them in water for a few minutes to plump them up.