9% of Irish people will cook Christmas dinner for the first time this year

by Rachel Darcy

New research by safefood has shown that this year, 9% of the population – around 315,000 people – will attempt to cook Christmas dinner for the first time with 13% stating that they feel nervous about it.

To help easy any Christmas food nerves, safefood has everything needed to cook the perfect, and safe, Christmas day dinner on www.safefood.net, with their chatbot is also back this year and easier to use to answer any questions you might have. Available on Facebook Messenger, Google Assist and Alexa, the safefood chatbot can answer any questions you might have ahead of Christmas or on the day itself.

The research also showed that half of us (51%) will have a smaller gathering on Christmas Day this year, with 27% purchasing a turkey crown and 17% purchasing a boned and rolled turkey. However, 42% still plan to cook a full turkey. The research also highlighted that more than one in ten people are planning to deliver Christmas dinner to loved ones this year.

Dr Linda Gordon, Chief Specialist, Food Science safefood said: “With so many people cooking Christmas dinner for the first time this year, we really want to help build confidence ahead of what might seem like a big task. The key is to give yourself plenty of time – whether that’s how long to defrost a frozen turkey, how long to cook it for or how long to keep leftovers.

“Whatever cooking method, timings or recipes you use; you know your turkey is properly cooked when there’s no pink meat in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, the juices run clear and the meat is piping hot throughout.”

“At safefood, we’re here to take the stress out of Christmas for home cooks and our website has everything you need; food safety tips, a cooking time calculator for your turkey and tasty leftover recipes so you can make the most of Christmas. The month of December is the busiest month of the year on our website and last year, more than 110,000 people visited our site between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to find great Christmas cooking advice.”

Supporting the campaign, Author and Chef, Paul Flynn said: “Cooking Christmas dinner can be one of the most stressful meals of the year to prepare and cook so I am delighted to be supporting safefood’s campaign this year to try and make things a bit easier so that you can spend your time with family on Christmas Day. Preparation is key, so try to get vegetables prepared the day before so that your main focus on the day can be the turkey.

“A turkey is probably the largest food item that you will cook throughout the year so take the time before Christmas Day to work out how long it will need to cook using the turkey cooking time calculator on Safefood’s website or ask safefood’s chatbot.”

As with any cooked leftover, safefood remind that you should cool your leftover turkey and get it in the fridge within two hours of cooking and should be eaten within three days. Research found that 12% of people keep their turkey for longer than this, some up to five days or more which can increase the risk of food poisoning.

Leftovers should only be re-heated once so portion any leftover turkey for recipes you want to make. If you want to freeze any leftover meat or poultry, wrap it well and make sure it is stored in a suitable container for freezing. Freeze cooked meat for no more than 6 months.

The most popular leftover recipes were turkey sandwiches (61%) followed by turkey curry (25%) stir fry (14%) and turkey pie (10%) You can find more great leftover recipes at www.safefood.net/ Christmas.

Key food safety tips for Christmas day cooking:

  • Get your fridge ready – clean it with warm soapy water and make space for your turkey
  • If your turkey is frozen, ensure you leave enough time to defrost it prior to cooking allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds/1.8-2.2kg. Defrost your turkey on dish or tray on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Don’t wash your turkey as this can splash food poisoning bacteria around your kitchen through drips, drops and splashes – proper cooking will kill any germs present.
  • Raw poultry can contain germs like Salmonella and Campylobacter so it’s important to cook these foods thoroughly. Visit www.safefood.net or use safefood’s chatbot to find out the cooking time suitable for your turkey size.
  • For stuffed turkeys, build in extra cooking time to ensure the centre is thoroughly cooked. Ideally, cook your stuffing in a separate dish. safefood’s Turkey Cooking Time calculator on their website can provide specific advice.
  • Remember to check that the turkey is cooked at the end of the cooking period by pricking the thickest part of the joint with a skewer and making sure that the juices run clear, the turkey is piping hot the whole way through and there is no pink meat left and if you have a meat thermometer the thickest part of the turkey should read 75ºC when it is safe to eat.

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