Stressed out about hosting the annual Family Turkey Day?

Call the Experts!

So many of us want to prepare Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, ‘Just like mom did’. While cooking a complete turkey dinner is not an insurmountable task, it can be tricky for both the new cook and the seasoned one. Below are some frequently asked questions and resources to make this holiday dinner one to remember.

Turkey Facts

Fresh or Frozen:

Turkeys can be purchased either fresh or frozen. A fresh turkey will need no thawing and will be ready to cook. However, it must be purchased within a few days of the holiday. For that reason, many people prefer the convenience of a frozen turkey. Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance and stored in the freezer. Remember though, a frozen turkey requires several days of thawing before it is ready to cook. Experts recommend turkeys be thawed in the refrigerator with one day of thawing for every four pounds of meat. If you find yourself with a frozen turkey and not enough time to defrost it, your turkey can be thawed in a tub or sink of cold water. Allow 30 minutes for every pound of turkey. (Remember to change the water frequently to keep bacteria from growing)

What Size Turkey Should I Buy?

We all want enough turkey to feed everyone, plus leftovers. To ensure a generous portion of turkey on Thanksgiving as well as sandwiches the next day, 1 1/2 pounds of turkey per person should be allowed. Turkey and stuffing calculators, available online , will give you a more exact estimate of the amount of turkey and stuffing needed for a successful holiday meal.

Remember Turkey Safety

Turkey must be handled properly to be sure no one at your holiday table gets sick. Keep these safety tips in mind and everyone should leave your holiday celebration happy and healthy:

• When handling raw meat, remember to wash your hands often. Raw turkey and ready-to-eat foods should be kept separate. Utensils, cutting boards and countertops should be properly cleaned after raw turkey has come into contact with them.

• Remember to stuff the turkey immediately before roasting, using only cooked ingredients. Stuffing the turkey the night before allows harmful bacteria to accumulate in the cavity of the bird.

• Cook to the proper temperature. Undercooked meat can make people ill. Temperature should be measured with a reliable oven thermometer. Cook to 180 degrees F in the thigh or 160 degrees F in the center of the stuffing.

• Meat should be refrigerated promptly after cooking. Temperature of cooked meat should stay below 40 degrees F.

Simple Roasting Instructions

• Prepare stuffing just before placing in the turkey. Loosely stuff neck and body cavities of completely thawed turkey. Remember not to pack the stuffing too tightly as it needs room to expand while cooking!

• Before roasting, turn the turkey’s wings back to hold the neck skin in place. This levels the turkey in the pan to encourage even cooking and keeps the wings out of the way when carving.

• Cook the turkey in an open pan so your turkey will come out tender, juicy and golden brown. Place on a roasting rack in a pan that is 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Don’t have a rack? Place two or three large carrots underneath.

• Cook turkey at 325 degrees F. Cooking time varies depending on the size of the turkey. Check the chart below for recommended cooking times. Remember to start checking the turkey for doneness 1/2 hour before estimated end time!

Net Weight (pounds) Stuffed (in hours)

10 to 18 3-3/4 to 4-1/2

18-22 4-1/2 to 5

22-24 5 to 5-1/2

24-30 5-1/2 to 6-1/4

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for a big crowd or for just a few, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings can be a stressful. De-stress the holiday by planning ahead, asking for help, and taking advantage of the resources available to you online. With these hints and tips in mind, you will create the picture-perfect holiday dinner you are hoping for, and have a lot of fun in the process!

For more help, call the Butterball “Turkey Talk-Line” for help! Professional home economists and nutritionists are available to answer questions starting November 1, 2006 through the end of December. Times vary depending on the day, but automated assistance is available after hours and all year long. Call the talk line at 1-800-288-8372 (BUTTERBALL) or check out the web page . Assistance is available in English and Spanish.


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