Preparation / Directions:
HOW MUCH SHOULD MY TURKEY WEIGH?
If your turkey weighs less than 12 pounds, plan to purchase 1 pound
per person. If your turkey weighs more than 12 pounds, you will only
need 3/4 pound for each guest.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO THAW A TURKEY?
The easiest and safest way to thaw a turkey is to place the wrapped
bird on a tray in the refrigerator. Plan about 24 hours for each 5
pounds of the bird's weight. Remember not to count the day you will
be roasting it. Turkey should never be thawed at room temperature.
FRESH OR FROZEN
It's trendy to buy fresh turkeys. Like most anything else, fresh has
more flavor, and if you can spare the extra time and money, it is the
best way to go. But with our busy lifestyles, and our budgets, buying
a frozen turkey seems like a wise choice. It's something you can do
weeks in advance, and it's one less thing to do the day before. So if
you do buy frozen, don't feel guilty!
I NEED MY TURKEY TODAY, AND IT'S NOT COMPLETELY THAWED. WHAT CAN I DO?
Place the plastic-wrapped turkey, breast side down, in a sink of cold
water. Change the water every 30 minutes.
ONCE MY TURKEY IS COMPLETELY THAWED, HOW LONG CAN I KEEP IT IN THE
REFRIGERATOR BEFORE ROASTING?
A thawed whole turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
HOW CAN I GET A BEAUTIFUL GOLDEN BROWN TURKEY WITHOUT DRYING OUT THE
Tent the turkey loosely with foil to delay browning of the breast.
The foil should be removed during the last 30 to 45 minutes to allow
the turkey to brown. Tenting for the entire roasting time can
actually slow cooking. Another method, tried and true, was sent to
me recently and it's worth sharing. "I am usually very successful
with this, so here's my two cents, if you are interested in one more
method. What I do, is roast it upside down (uncovered, basting every
so often with chicken fat, which adds flavor and keeps the skin from
tearing or cooking too fast) so the juices from the dark meat moisten
and flavor the white. When it's browned nicely, I turn it over and
let it finish roasting, breast side up, so it comes out browned on
both sides. I season it the night before inside and out, with
(kosher) salt, pepper, paprika and garlic mixture, held on by chicken
fat, and am VERY careful to never break the skin anywhere- helps for
major moistness. I've been doing it this way for years and it always
comes out very good and moist. I use Butterball and never roast it
for as long as they suggest."
DO I NEED TO BASTE A TURKEY WHILE IT'S COOKING?
Basting today's turkeys is not necessary. More importantly, basting
tools, such as brushes and bulb basters, could actually be sources of
bacteria contamination if dipped into uncooked or undercooked poultry
juices, then allowed to sit at room temperature and used later for
HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY TURKEY IS DONE? CAN I TRUST THE POP-UP TIMER
THAT COMES WITH THE BIRD?
Temperature should be your guide to doneness. You can use the pop-up
timer as an aid, but to be sure that the turkey reaches a safe
temperature, always use a thermometer. The thermometer should be
inserted into the thickest portion of the turkey, but be sure it does
not touch bone or the pan. Use either a meat thermometer which can be
inserted at the beginning of the cooking time or an instant-read
thermometer. Instant-read thermometers are not designed to stay in
food during cooking.
HOW CAN I BE SURE MY THERMOMETER IS ACCURATE?
Submerge 2 inches of the thermometer stem in boiling water. It should
read 212° F. If the thermometer registers above or below 212° F., add
or subtract the same number of degrees from the temperature specified
in the recipe and cook to that temperature. (This only works if
you're at sea level. Water boils at a lower temperature the higher
WHY DO RECIPES SAY TO LET A ROASTED TURKEY STAND 15 TO 20 MINUTES
Standing lets the flesh of the bird firm up, allowing the carved
slices to hold together better.
HOW DO I SKIM FAT FROM THE PAN DRIPPINGS?
Place the drippings in a measuring cup or similar container. Tip the
container and use a metal spoon to remove the oily liquid (fat) that
rises to the top. You can also buy fat separators in most cooking
supply stores. Williams-Sonoma sells the Catamount Fat Separator. It
quickly separates meat juices from fat with a cleverly designed glass
cup. The fat in pan juices rises to the top, so its low spout pours
off only the good juices. It's made from laboratory glass and is safe
on the stovetop
I'VE HEARD THAT ROASTING TURKEY IN A PAPER GROCERY BAG IS REALLY EASY
AND DELICIOUS. IS IT SAFE TO ROAST TURKEY THIS WAY?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety
and Inspection Service, the glue and ink on brown bags are not
intended for use as cooking materials and may give off harmful fumes.
In addition, brown bags are usually made from recycled materials and
are not sanitary.
CAN I ROAST A TURKEY OVERNIGHT IN AN OVEN SET AT A LOW TEMPERATURE?
No. Roasting a turkey at a temperature below 325°F. allows harmful
bacteria to multiply. These bacteria, which can cause food poisoning,
may be present in raw turkey. Fortunately, they are easily destroyed
with proper cooking techniques. Roasting the turkey at 325° F. kills
the bacteria yet produces meat that is moist and tender.
HELP! I'VE BEEN ASKED TO BRING THE COOKED TURKEY TO A POTUCK. WHAT IS
THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS?
The best way is to roast the bird unstuffed; carve the meat off the
carcass, cover and chill thoroughly. To reheat at the potluck, place
sliced turkey in an oven-safe baking dish, add about 1/2 cup water,
cover with foil, and heat in a 350° F. oven about 30 to 45 minutes or
till well heated through
I HAVE LOTS OF TURKEY AND STUFFING LEFT OVER. WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?
Before carving your turkey, be sure to remove all stuffing. The
leftover stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. After dinner
remove all meat from the carcass (this should be done within 2 hours
of the turkey's removal from oven). Leftover turkey can be
refrigerated and used within 2 days, or frozen in small portions. Be
sure to label and date the wrapped packages and use within 6 months.
Leftover turkey can be used in any recipe calling for cooked chicken
or turkey. Stuffing must be heated to at least 160°F.
HOW LONG CAN I KEEP LEFTOVER GRAVY?
Leftover gravy should be kept no longer than 2 days. Always bring
leftover gravy to a full boil before serving.
*One of the most important things you can do to safeguard your family
and friends against the possibility of food poisoning, is to make
sure your turkey and stuffing reach an internal temperature of 165
*Cut all the meat away from the bones before storing leftovers. Never
refrigerate a whole bird and try to reheat it a day later!
Refrigerate turkey leftovers as quickly as possible, but in any event,
do not let them sit on the dinner table at room temperature longer
than two hours.
*As a general rule, turkey, gravy and stuffing should be refrigerated
separately. Use shallow lidded containers for quick cooling. How cold
should your refrigerator be? Just above the temperature at which
lettuce freezes, or below 40 degrees.
*Refrigerated turkey leftovers (meat only, cut off the bones) should
be used within 3 to 4 days.
Stuffing and gravy should be used within 2 days. Dishes made from
cooked turkey should be