Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just one week away? This year (like every year) seems to have flown by quickly. I can not wait for Thanksgiving and the Holiday season to finally start. For me I love getting to go home and stay at my parents house where I grew up. I like waking up in the morning and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I really love traveling to Jefferson County to eat a huge meal with Grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Of course no Thanksgiving meal would be complete without the turkey, and that’s what I really want to talk to you about.
Every year we get calls at the office about what is the proper way to thaw and/or prepare a turkey. I’m glad people are asking and learning because if there is one gift you don’t want to give this Holiday season, it’s food poisoning. So lets start from the beginning. Whether you are buying a fresh or frozen turkey you need to plan 1 pound of turkey for every person that will be eating. If you are buying a fresh turkey you can purchase it 1-2 days before you plan on cooking it, a frozen turkey can be bought any time before Thanksgiving and can be kept frozen for up to a year.
Because thawing a turkey takes lots of time planning ahead is really key in getting your turkey cooked safely and properly. There are two methods you can use to thaw a turkey, the refrigerator method or the cold water method. To thaw your frozen turkey in the refrigerator you need to allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. So if you buy a twelve pound turkey you will need to allow at least three days for it to thaw. Keep the turkey in it’s original wrapper and sit it in a pan to prevent any juices from leaking onto other foods. The second method is cold water where you put your fully wrapped turkey in a cold water bath and allow the water to thaw the turkey. For this method you need to allow 30 minutes for every one pound of turkey. Also it is very important to make sure you refresh your cold water every 30 minutes. Room temperature water gives harmful organisms the opportunity to grow and replicate, and we do not want these organisms ruining our Thanksgiving weekend.
When roasting your turkey always set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You can find charts on the USDA‘s website for approximate cooking times per a pound. However your turkey is not done until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. To properly check in the internal temperature insert a meat thermometer into the inner most part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast, without touching any bones. For safety reasons the USDA does not recommend cooking your dressing inside of your turkey but instead cooking it in a separate casserole dish.
If you still need help or have more questions feel free call us at the office (405-713-1125). If you need help on Thanksgiving day the USDA has a Meat & Poultry hotline available (1-888-674-6854) or you can check out their website. I hope that everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Good luck with your turkeys!
Picture from USDA Flickr account: 150th Anniversary of U.S. Department of Agriculture Album. Retrieved on Nov. 14, 2012 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/sets/72157627857689389/with/6862198794/