.[Planning Ahead] [Do's & Don't's] [Select and Store] [Thawing] [Stuffing-Yes or No] [Pick Your Pan]
[Stuffing] [Roasting] [Basting] [When Is It Done] [Moisture] [Resting] [Carving] [Emergncies]
[Little Things That Count!]

1-Begin at least 2 weeks before the dinner.
2-Know how many you're going to feed (remember anyone's allergies or aversions).
3-Plan your Menu....and stick with it.
4-Review all the recipes...find those that can be made ahead of time.
5-Write out a schedule for food preparation...and stick with it.
6-Make sure you have all the necessary kitchen equipment (pans, pots, etc.)
7-Go shopping...if possible, order a fresh turkey; get a good roasting pan and rack if needed
8-Prepare as many dishes as possible 1-3 days before the day of the dinner.
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DO's 'n DON'T's
1-DO buy a fresh hen turkey if possible....oooo, they're so much more yummy!
2-DON'T buy a fresh turkey more than 2 days before the day of the dinner.
3-DON'T handle the darned bird if you're ill....get a helper.
4-DO Wash hands after handling raw turkey before handling ANYthing else.
5-DO give the turkey a name before you cook it...it's more fun, and you need a sense of humor!
6-DON'T set oven temperature higher than 325º thinking the turkey will get done faster--- it won't.
7-DON'T set oven temperature too low...less than 325º allows bacteria to grow rapidly.
8-DON'T leave turkey and/or stuffing at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
9-DO use the K.I.S.S. method (e-mail me if you need interpretation of that).
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SELECTING: Look for the "sell by" date on the label of fresh turkey; it's the last day the turkey should be sold by the store. Look for packaging and wrapping that doesn't have any rips, tears, or other holes. If the turkey is frozen, look for any indications that the turkey didn't start to thaw and was refrozen.
STORING: A fresh unopened turkeys should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator and will keep its best quality and safety for up to 2 days after the "sell by" date. Frozen whole turkeys can be stored for up to 1 year in your freezer. Whole turkeys that have been purchased as frozen birds do not need to be rewrapped for freezer storage unless the package is damaged. However, be sure to rewrap fresh turkey pieces in freezer wrap or place them in freezer bags before freezing; they can then be stored in your freezer for up to 6 months.
A frozen turkey should never be thawed at room temperature. The easiest and safest way to thaw a turkey (but the most impractical way, considering our crowded fridges) is to place the wrapped bird on a tray in the lowest part of the refrigerator. Figure about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of the bird's weight, not counting the day you will be roasting it (start thawing a 15-lb. turkey on Monday morning before Thanksgiving).
A handy way is to fill a large cooler with ice water, put in the wrapped turkey, cover, and then keep turning the turkey every few hours. This method cuts the above thawing time almost in half.
Another way is to fill the kitchen sink with cold water to cover the turkey, and let it sit 24-36 hours or longer. The drawback is, you have to keep changing the water...and what are you going to do without the use of your kitchen sink?!
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Do not prepare stuffing ahead of time! The broth normally used in stuffing can breed bacteria. It's fine to make the crumbs or bread cubes ahead, but that's all!
YES---If stuffing is to be baked inside the turkey, do not stuff the bird and then let it sit, either outside or inside the refrigerator. Also, roasting times are much longer by about 10 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.
NO---If you bake stuffing in a casserole, you'll probably need to use the maximum amount of liquid called for in the recipe, since the oven baking will result in a drier stuffing. Most stuffing casseroles should be covered (lid or foil) and will bake in 40 to 45 minutes at 325 or in about 30 minutes at 375. Remove the cover for the last 15 minutes baking.
When buying a large roasting pan, choose a shallow (about 3" deep) heavy-weight pan with good heat conducting qualities; and yes, non-stick is best and handles are a big help, too. Look for a perfect fit, meaning the pan should just hold the turkey with no part of the bird extending beyond the pan or the meat juices will drip into the oven. If the pan is too large for the turkey, the juices in the pan will burn. Be sure your pan has a metal rack to hold the bird out of the drippings and to allow the heat to reach the underside of the bird. If you don't have a roasting pan, and don't have money to invest in one, you can use your broiler pan, but you must put a wire rack in the bottom of the broiler pan to keep the turkey out of the drippings.
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First, remove the neck and giblets from the neck and the body cavity. Rinse turkey inside and outside under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
To stuff a turkey, don't pack in the stuffing -- instead spoon the stuffing in loosely. This leaves room for the stuffing to expand during roasting. Begin by lightly spooning some of the stuffing into the neck cavity; then pull the neck skin over the stuffing to the back of the bird. Fasten the neck skin to the back with a small wooden or metal skewer. Next, spoon the stuffing loosely into the body cavity. After stuffing the body cavity, secure the legs to the tail by using the band of skin across the tail, tucking the ends of the drumsticks under the band. If the band of skin is not present, tie the legs securely to the tail with string. Twist the wing tips under the back of the turkey so they won't overcook.
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If your recipe calls for special treatments (herbs, seasonings, etc.), make sure you have everything the recipe calls for on hand and ready to go. Preheat the oven to 325º. Prepare the turkey according to recipe directions while the oven is heating. If using a regular meat thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone. Be sure to set your timer when you put the turkey in the oven.

NTF Roasting Guidelines for a Fresh or Thawed Turkey
Roast in a 325 degrees F. Conventional Oven on the Lowest Oven Rack
Weight Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours 3 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours 3 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 hours 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 to 5 hours 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

Okay, but only if using a large spoon. Basting tools, such as brushes and bulb basters, could actually be sources of bacteria contamination if dipped into uncooked or undercooked poultry pan juices, then allowed to sit at room temperature and used later for basting .
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To be safe, the turkey should reach a temperature of 180 in the thigh and 170º in the breast. Stuffing in the body cavity of the bird should reach 165. If using an instant-read thermometer, wait until about 30 minutes before the end of the estimated roasting time; insert the thermometer into the thigh first, get a reading; then insert into the breast and then the stuffing. Temperatures should register in about 15 seconds.
1-Slather breast, legs and wings with butter, olive oil, or vegetable oil.
2-Cover breast loosely with a foil tent.
3-Roast turkey breast-side down for 1/2 of the roasting time.
4-Cover turkey with double-thickness of cheesecloth soaked in olive or vegetable oil.
5-Drape 6-8 slices of bacon over the breast for first half of roasting. 6-Pour 1-2 cups turkey or chhicken broth in bottom of roasting pan.
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After removing the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a large cutting board and let it sit at least 15 to 20 minutes before carving. This allows the meat to retain the juices and firm up so the carved slices will hold together better. It's best to remove all the stuffing from the turkey immediately into a serving bowl. Cover the turkey and the stuffing with foil to keep them warm. Remember here that the bird will continue to cook internally for a few minutes. Besides this gives you time to make gravy and get everyone to the dinner table :)
Use a sharp carving knife or an electric knife for slicing. Grasp the tip of one drumstick with your fingers and pull the leg away from the body. Cut through the skin and meat between the drumstick-thigh piece and body. This exposes the joint where the thighbone and backbone connect. With the tip of a knife, disjoint the thighbone from the backbone by cutting through the joint. Repeat on other side. To separate the thigh and drumstick, cut through the joint where the leg and thigh bones meet. Repeat on the other piece. Hold the drumstick vertically by the tip with the large end down. Slice meat parallel to the bone and under some tendons, turning the leg to get even slices. Next, slice the thigh meat by cutting slices parallel to the bone. Repeat with the remaining drumstick and thigh.
To carve the breast meat, make a deep horizontal cut into the breast above each wing. This cut will be the end point of the breast meat slices. To continue carving the breast meat, beginning at the outer edge of one side of the breast, cut slices from the top of the breast down to the horizontal cut. Try to make the slices as thin and even as possible. Final smaller slices can follow the curve of the breastbone. Repeat on the other side of the breast.
Remove the wings by cutting through the joint where the wing bone and backbone meet.
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Butterball Turkey Talk Line
Website www.butterball.com

Shady Brook Farms Dial-a-Chef Hot Line
Website www.dialachef.com

Perdue's Thanksgiving Day Hot Line
Website www.perdue.com

USDA Meat & Poultry Hot Line
Website www.usda.gov.fsis

Reynolds Turkey Tips
Website www.reynoldskitchens.com

Land O' Lakes Holiday Bakeline
Website www.landolakes.com

Hershey Consumer Hot Line
Website www.hersheys.com

Libby's Consumer Hot Line
Website www.libbyspumpkin.com

Campbell's Holiday Hotline
Website www.campbellsoup.com

Ocean Spray Consumer Helpline
Website www.oceanspray.com

1. A partially frozen bird takes longer to cook.
2. A turkey in a dark roasting pan cookes faster than one in a shiny pan.
3. The depth and size of the pan can reduce heat circulation to all areas of the bird.
4. Using a foil tent over the turkey breast can slow cooking.
5. Using a roasting pan with a lid hols in steam and speeds cooking.
6. An oven-cooking bag can speed cooking.
7. A stuffed bird takes longer to cook.
8. The oven may heat food unevenly.
9. The oven's theromostat may be inaccurate, resulting in over or under 325º roasting temperature.
10. The rack position can have an effect on the evenness of cooking and heat circulation.
11. A turkey too large for the pan blocks heat circulation.
12. When giblets are removed from the turkey's cavities, the net weight is less than it was originally.
13. Those little pop-up thingees aren't always accurate. Using a meat thermometer is always best.

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Thanksgiving Dinner, or My Front Page

Copyright 2007 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved