Turkey Day 101: make it happen... even if you burn water

Amanda Harper

 

Thaw that bird!

Did you know that there is an official Butterball® turkey help line? Their experts answer questions through the holiday season about types of turkey troubles.

Did you know that most of their calls are from people wondering what to do with their frozen bird? (Their best tip: please DO NOT try to use a hairdryer!)

It CAN be done... even if you could probably burn water.

The BEST way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours per five pounds of turkey. Round up if you’re not sure.

But if you need to thaw it the day-of, fully submerge the turkey (still in its packaging) in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes, and allow roughly 30 minutes per pound to thaw.

If you’re deep frying the bird, it MUST be COMPLETELY thawed. But if you’re oven-roasting it, you’ve got a little leeway. If it’s totally frozen, increase cooking time by fifty percent: if it’s partially frozen, about 25%. Just check your thermometer for doneness.

Butterball® text line (open 24/7): 844-877-3456

 

TIP:

Stuffing is a whole set of problems, and you just don’t need that kind of negativity (or salmonella) in your life. Just assemble your dressing in a casserole, bake, then drizzle with a little cooked turkey broth before serving. Easy peasy.

 

What the cluck?!

Sorry to get fresh, but picking the right bird is pretty confusing stuff. Here’s a quick and dirty guide to picking the perfect bird for you.

Frozen vs. Fresh: While frozen birds are pretty obvious, “fresh” only means that the bird is not currently frozen. If you want a turkey that has never been frozen, look for that specific labeling.

Kosher: This turkey was slaughtered by a trained, Jewish butcher according to kosher laws. They’re also salted, which eliminates the need for brining.

Natural: According to the USDA, this means the turkey has not had any artificial flavorings or preservatives added.

Organic: This turkey was fed organic feed and not treated with antibiotics.

Self-basting or pre-brined: These have added salt, water, broth or seasonings injected into the meat. Do not baste this bird!

Heritage: This turkey is a descendant of some of America’s earliest breeds. The meat has a stronger flavor - some may say it’s gamy. Heritage birds often have smaller breasts and legs.

 

How big is that bird?

Of course size matters! If you want plenty of leftovers, aim for 1.5 lbs. per person. Does the occasion call for a lotta bird? Consider getting two smaller turkeys! You’ll get juicier results with less cook time.

 

Five tips to make it all happen:

1.) Make lists. Groceries, recipes, timing... organization is key!

2.) Be picky. Nix anything that’s going to be more effort than reward.

3.) Buy your desserts. Save so much stress and time.

4.) Haul out a big cooler (filled with ice!) as an extra fridge.

5.) Make ahead where possible!

 

TIP:

Go ahead and pull that pop-up timer (you know, the red dot) out of your bird and throw it away. By the time it pops (at 175 degrees), your turkey will be overcooked. Instead, invest in a probe thermometer.