MORE ON TURKEYS
SELECTING YOUR TURKEY
Whole ready-to-cook turkeys can range from 8 to 24 pounds. How much should you buy? Whether it’s your first turkey or your tenth, that’s always the question.
Allow 1 lb. of uncooked whole turkey per person. That makes enough for a feast, as well as leftovers. Choose a turkey that is plump and meaty with smooth, moist-looking skin. The skin should be creamy colored. The cut ends of the bones should be pink to red in color.
There’s no difference in quality between fresh adn frozen turkeys. Keep fresh whole turkeys refrigerated and cook them within 1 to 2 days of buying. Store whole frozen turkey in your freezer at 0* F. for up to 6 months. There is no difference between, fresh, frozen or pre-basted when it comes to cooking.
THAWING YOUR TURKEY
There are safe ways to thaw a frozen turkey. Thawing at room temperature is NOT recommended because it promotes bacterial growth.
GRADUAL THAW IN REFRIGERATOR. This is the preferred method. Refrigerate frozen turkey (in original packaging) on a tray to collect liquids. Allow about 24 hours per 5 pounds of whole turkey. An 8 - 12 pound turkey will thaw in about 2 days.
GRADUAL THAW IN COLD WATER. If you need to thaw a turkey more quickly, choose this method. Leave the turkey in its original packaging, free from tears or holes. Place in a sink or large clean container filled with cold water, and change water often. Allow about 30 minutes per pound for whole turkey. An 8 - 12 pound turkey will thaw in about 5 hours.
QUICK THAW IN MICROWAVE. If you need to thaw a turkey even faster, choose this method. Remove all packaging from turkey and place in a large, uncovered microwavable container. Thaw turkey in the microwave following the microwave manufacturers directions.
Plan ahead if you buy a frozen turkey. Large turkeys will need several days to thaw in the refrigerator. Once thawed, the turkey may be refrigerated up to 2 days before roasting.
THAWING TIME IN REFRIGERATOR:
8 TO 12 POUND TURKEY - 1 - 2 DAYS
12 TO 16 POUND TURKEY - 2 - 3 DAYS
16 TO 20 POUND TURKEY - 3 - 4 DAYS
20 TO 24 POUND TURKEY - 4 - 5 DAYS
PREPARING YOUR TURKEY
While the oven heats, prepare the turkey for roasting. Stuff the turkey just before cooking. This will prevent bacteria from contaminating the stuffing. Never prestuff a turkey and refrigerate or freeze for later roasting.
Remove outer wrapping from turkey. Remove package of giblets (gizzard, heart, liver, neck) from neck cavity or turkey. If making Giblet Gravy or Giblet Stuffing,place giblets in saucepan and add other ingredients.
Rinse neck and body cavities with cool water; pat dry with paper towels. Rub both cavities lightly with salt, if desired, but do not salt cavities if stuffing the turkey.
Stuff turkey, packing stuffing loosely (stuffing expands when it bakes) in the neck cavity. Then fasten neck skin to the back with skewers, and fold wings across the back with the tips touching. Next, loosely fil the body cavity. Tuck the legs under the band of skin at the tail or tie or skewer to the tail.
If not stuffing the turkey, fasten neck skin to back of turkey with skewer. Fold wings across back of turkey so tips are touching. Place seasonings in body cavity.
ROASTING YOUR TURKEY
Roasting your turkey may actually be the easiest part of your meal. For golden brown skin and moist, tender meat, roast your turkey at a medium temperature (325* F) according to the following timetable. For an equally tender and delicious turkey, you can roast at a high temperature (450* F.) instead, following the timetable for high-heat roasting.
Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
Brush with melted butter, margarine or oil. If using an ovenproof meat thermometer, place it so the tip is in the thickest part of the inside thigh and does not touch the bone.
When two-thirds through the roasting time, cut the band of skin at the tail, or remove the skewer or tie holding the legs together, to allow inside of thighs to cook through.
Begin checking turkey doneness about 1 hour before end of recommended raosting time. Turkey is done when thermometer reaches 180* F. and legs move easilywhen lifted or twisted. Thermometer place in center of stuffing will read 165* F. when done. If the turkey has turned golden brown but is not done, place a tent of foil loosely over the turkey if desired.
When turkey is done, transfer it, breast side up, to a carving board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 to 20 minutes. Cutting the turkey will be easier and the slices will be uniform if turkey stand before carving.
ROASTING TURKEY TIMETABLE
READY-TO-COOK… APPROX. ROASTING TIMES AT:
WEIGHT … 325* F… 450* F.
8 to 12 lbs…3 - 3 1/2 hrs…not recommended
12 to 14 lbs… 3 1/2 - 4 hrs.
14 to 18 lbs… 4 - 4 1/4 hrs.
18 to 20 lbs… 4 1/4 - 4 3/4 hrs.
20 to 24 lbs… 4 3/4 - 5 1/4 hrs.
WHOLE TURKEY NOT STUFFED
8 to 12 lbs. … 2 1/4 - 3 hrs…45 min to 1 1/4 hrs.
12 to 14 lbs…3 - 3 3/4 hrs.
14 to 18 lbs… 3 3/4 - 4 1/4 hrs.
18 to 20 lbs… 4 1/4 - 4 1/2 hrs.
20 to 24 lbs… 4 1/2 - 5 hrs.
TURKEY BREAST - BONE IN
2 to 4 lbs… 1 1/2 - 2 hrs… not recommended
3 to 5 lbs…1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hrs.
5 to 7 lbs… 2 - 2 1/2 hrs.