Food for Fort: Talking turkey, and other matters | Matthew Fort | Food and drink

With one member of the family dairy-intolerant and myself pregnant and gagging at the thought of goat's butter, what is the best way to keep a roasting turkey moist this Christmas?
Goat's butter! Oh dear heavens. In fact, you don't need to bother with dairy produce of any kind. All you need is time – 10 hours, to be exact – and a meat thermometer. The following is based on a recipe I gave some years ago in this very newspaper.

First, treat yourself to a decent turkey, one with a good pedigree and provenance – no amount of culinary magic can turn a broiler turkey into anything other than a gastronomic abomination. Next, a bit of theory. Very low temperature roasting (ie, below 100C) is designed to bring the bird very slowly to between 61C and 63C, which is the temperature at which it will be cooked and all potential pathogens knocked on the head, provided that temperature has been maintained for 30 minutes at 61C or 17 minutes at 63C. This procedure reduces the tightening up of the muscle structure to the minimum, keeps in as many natural juices as possible, and produces a tender, tasty and succulent turkey.

So, set your oven as low as it will go – in an ideal world, below 100C, say 70-80C. Your oven thermostat may not be that accurate, so you'll need a meat thermometer, too. Put the turkey in a roasting pan on its side, one thigh upwards. Add a little water to the pan and place at the bottom of the oven. After three hours, turn it so the other thigh is on top. After three hours more, turn it on its back, so the breast faces down. Whenever you turn the turkey, use the meat thermometer to check the internal temperature at critical points (ie, the thickest part of the breast, the thickest part of the thigh, and inside the thigh, where it's tucked into the bird). If it goes a few degrees over 63C, don't worry – it won't ruin the dish; and if it looks as if it might not hit the magic 61C in the time available, just turn up the heat by 15 degrees or so. You may lose some of the juices along the way as the fibres tighten up, but it'll still be a fabulously juicy bird.

An hour before you want to eat, take the turkey out of the oven and turn the heat as high as it will go. At this stage the bird will look pretty much as it did when it went in (ie, not very appetising). Turn it breast up in the classic position, rub olive oil all over the skin and sprinkle with salt. Pop it back into the hot oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, basting from time to time. Turn off the oven and let the turkey rest until you want to eat it. It really couldn't be easier.

Why do chefs have such an aversion to garlic presses? Is there much difference in chemical response and taste in garlic crushed by a press rather than the flat of a knife blade?
According to the boffins, garlic has no flavour until the cell walls are broken, and when the cell walls are broken, the enzyme alliinase is released, which reacts with a precursor compound, alliin, to form diallyl thiosulfinate and other thiosulfinates (the pongy and tasty side of the garlic). The more the cell walls are broken, the more the various enzymes and precursor compounds get together, and the more pongy and tasty the garlic becomes. Whether you use a press or the flat of a knife blade and salt doesn't matter on that count. The only serious difference is that you can get a finer paste with the blade than with the garlic press.

I enjoy making bread but only ever use two recipes. Can you recommend a good bread book that isn't too fearsome? I make bread to relax, not to be competitive.
All the world's a baker, it would seem, and heaven knows there are enough bread books to choose from. Personally, I always have to hand my tried and trusted copy of Making Bread At Home, by Tom Jaine (Phoenix). I've mentioned this admirable volume before: it has 50 recipes from around the world, and seems to me straightforward and sensible, although some feel it's a bit idiosyncratic for the neophyte baker. If I want to be inspired, I turn to The Handmade Loaf, by Weekend's very own Dan Lepard (Mitchell Beazley). And then there's the brilliant Dough, by Richard Bertinet (Kyle Cathie), which has won loads of awards, but is probably better suited to the more adventurous baker.

Any ideas where I can get organic malt vinegar? Every year I make organic apple chutney, but my stock of organic malt vinegar has run out and I can't find any.
It turns out that organic malt vinegar is something of a rarity. Indeed, several people assured me that such a substance did not exist. However, in the course of my researches, I came across Kings Vinegars of Bristol , who said they could get hold of it and how much did I need? So there you go.

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