25 Tips for a Top-Notch Turkey This Thanksgiving
How to ensure that this year's main entree is the best ever
Photo courtesy of Butterball
1. Fresh or frozen turkey? Fresh turkeys need no thawing and are ready to cook. Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance, but require several days of thawing before roasting. Fresh Butterball turkeys are all natural and contain no additional ingredients. Frozen Butterball turkeys are deep basted to be extra tender and juicy.
2. Butterball recommends refrigerator thawing. For every four pounds of turkey, allow at least one day of thawing in the refrigerator.
3. No time to thaw? Try thawing more quickly by submerging the turkey in cold water. Leave the bird in the wrapper, place it in a tub or sink of cold water and allow 30 minutes of thaw time for every pound of turkey.
4. Quick and easy. Butterball offers fully cooked turkeys. Already seasoned and roasted, just throw them in a shallow pan and warm in the oven according to package instructions for a no-mess, no-fuss way to delight guests.
5. What size bird to buy? Allow 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person for generous servings and leftovers.
6. Remember home food safety tips when handling a turkey:
- Wash hands often.
- Keep raw turkey and ready-to-eat foods separated.
- Cook to the proper temperature (see tip 13).
- Refrigerate the cooked turkey promptly to reduce temperature to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Before roasting, turn the turkey’s wings back to hold the neck skin in place. This levels the turkey in the roasting pan to encourage even cooking, and with the wings out of the way, makes carving easier.
8. Prepare stuffing just before placing in the turkey, using only cooked ingredients. Loosely stuff neck and body cavities of completely thawed turkey and do not tightly pack stuffing into turkey.
9. Use the stuffing calculator on Butterball.com to figure out the right amount to make for everyone at your table happy.
10. Butterball recommends the open pan roasting method to consistently create a tender, juicy and golden brown turkey. Use a shallow pan about 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep, and always use a flat rack so the turkey cooks evenly.
11. Spray the turkey with a cooking spray like PAM before putting it in the oven to reduce calories and eliminate the clean-up of an oil-filled brush.
12. Use the recommended roasting schedule as a guide for cook time for an open pan in a 325-degree conventional oven. Start checking for doneness 1/2-hour before recommended end times for a picture-perfect turkey.
13. Place a piece of lightweight foil loosely over the breast and top of the drumsticks when the turkey is 2/3 done to prevent overcooking the breast when using the open pan method.
14. Always use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is fully cooked. Temperatures should reach 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the center of the stuffing.
15. Not sure exactly where that thermometer should go to get an accurate reading? Insert the meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh muscle, but don't allow it to touch the bone.
16. Let the turkey stand 15 minutes before carving. This allows turkey juices to set and the stuffing temperature to rise to an ideal temperature.
17. Use a freshly sharpened, straight knife to make carving hassle-free.
18. Ingredients from a stuffing recipe can make a beautiful, easy garnish. Common stuffing ingredients, like fresh sage leaves and parsley, look great with a golden-brown bird. Other simple garnishes include grapes, orange wedges, apple slices or edible flowers.
19. Warm serving plates in the dishwasher just before carving the turkey to keep food warm when serving a big crowd.
20. Prepare the gravy just before serving to avoid reheating and scorching. For a more robust gravy flavor, replace half the water with wine or chicken broth.
21. Leftover turkey or chicken broth can make the rest of the meal healthier. Replace the butter or cream in mashed potatoes with broth to reduce fat and calories in every serving.
22. Two is the magic number. Store leftovers in separate containers within two hours after cooking and eat or freeze within two days.
23. Try Butterball’s fully-cooked, refrigerated Turkey Strips if your family is craving “leftover” meals, but ate the whole bird on Thanksgiving Day.
24. Call 1-800-BUTTERBALL or Text 844-877-3456 from Nov.1-Dec. 24, 2017, to answer questions and assist all Thanksgiving cooks.
25. Habla Español? 1-800-BUTTERBALL and butterball.com offer bilingual operators and a Spanish-language version of the website.