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In October, we published the results of our hotly anticipated annual Christmas Taste Awards but some of you may have noticed that there was no turkey category.
This year, the BBC Good Food team decided to not include turkeys in our initial Christmas taste test. This is because fresh turkeys aren’t available until much nearer to Christmas time, so tasting them early – in August – means we are potentially judging products that have been frozen at a previous date and are therefore not an accurate representation of what customers can purchase in the supermarkets this year.
For that reason, we decided to blind-test fresh turkey products in late November. Our expert panel of BBC Good Food judges blind-tested 13 turkey products across two categories – whole turkeys and ready-made turkey centrepieces – to find our favourites, and the results are in.
For the full list of BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards 2019 products, including those given highly commended awards, visit our BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards hub page. For more taste tests and best buys, visit our BBC Good Food review section.
What we looked for: A free-range, extra-special whole turkey that will take pride of place on a Christmas Day spread. Turkeys can arrive with flavour accompaniments but not stuffing or gravy.
Winner: Whole turkey
ASDA Extra Special free range Norfolk bronze large turkey (serves up to 10) Buy now from ASDA (£28.36)
A very classic turkey, this plump, golden-coloured bird not only looks inviting on the table but has moist, juicy and full-flavoured meat. While the most common turkey gripes are dry breast meat and bitter, liver-tasting leg meat, this has neither problem – the white meat is succulent while the dark is rich and gamey, but not overpowering. One of our judges said, ‘one bite of this reminded me of Christmas’ – now that’s what you want from a turkey!
Highly commended: Whole turkey
M&S Collection traditionally dressed free-range Devonshire bronze turkey (serves 8-10) Buy now from M&S (£54-£74.25)
If you like turkey with a deeper, gamier flavour then this is for you. While it slightly divided our judges, those who liked it, really loved it, describing it as rich, meaty and incredibly juicy. The leg meat is fatty and gamey – a real bonus for many of our judges, but slightly overpowering for others. Overall, it has good depth of flavour, juicy meat and excellent skin.
Ready-made turkey centrepiece
What we looked for: A pre-prepared, oven-ready turkey centrepiece. This should be a joint, crown or portion of turkey that has been seasoned, stuffed, wrapped or shaped, it can also have been pre-cooked. This should be a showstopping, shortcut option that feeds four or more people.
Winner: Turkey centrepiece
M&S Collection The Perfect Turkey (Serves 12-14) Buy now from M&S (£65.00)
A stand-out winner, this was voted a resounding number one by our entire panel of judges. Consisting of a pork, sage and onion-stuffed turkey crown in the centre, plus deboned, bacon-wrapped thighs (also stuffed), this innovative all-in-one centrepiece is an easy way to please everyone at Christmas. Both the white and dark turkey meat is rich in flavour, while the coarse, meaty stuffing is perfectly seasoned and peppery, not to mention generous. Add to that the fact the skin is perfect and the bacon is super crisp and crackly and this really is a winning product. One for large families (or those who like a lot of leftovers), it serves 12-14.
Highly commended: Turkey centrepiece
ASDA Extra Special British turkey parcel with truffle flavoured pork stuffing (1.4kg) Buy now from ASDA (£23)
This neat, cushion-shaped turkey parcel is filled with a pork, porcini and truffle stuffing and wrapped in maple-cured bacon. It was praised by our judges for its moist turkey meat and crisp, smoky bacon. The stuffing was described by one of our judges as ‘porky and punchy’, although some thought that the truffle flavour, although mild, could be divisive. Its size makes it great for families of 4-6 (although it could stretch to 8 if you went heavy on the sides) and the gluten-free stuffing is a great bonus for those with allergies.
The judging process
All food was prepared, cooked and presented by independent home economists following specific pack instructions. All whole turkeys were seasoned with salt and brushed with butter before cooking. Judging took place in silence to ensure the panel didn’t influence each other and the entire process was overseen by an independent adjudicator.
To read more about the judging process, visit the BBC Good Food Christmas Taste Awards FAQ page.
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