Since the holidays are upon us, keeping up with the turkey talk is inevitable. So, before purchasing your turkey this holiday season, let’s go over some turkey 101. It’s important to keep you and your guests safe from any food borne illness that may occur, and knowing how to deal with your turkey will assist in the safety.
When selecting your bird, it’s important to know what size to buy. You’ll want to plan on 3/4 of a pound for each guest. So, if you’re serving 20 guests, you’ll need to purchase a 15 pound turkey. If you’re buying a fresh bird, look for the “sell buy” date that is on the label. This date will be the last day the turkey should be sold. If your turkey is frozen, look for undamaged packaging and indications that the turkey hasn’t been partially thawed and refrozen.
Once you purchase the right turkey, immediately freeze the turkey or place on a dish in the refrigerator. A refrigerated turkey should not be stored longer than 2 days, but a frozen turkey can be stored up to 1 year in the freezer.
When thawing your turkey, the easiest and safest way will be to place the wrapped turkey in your refrigerator to thaw. Allow 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey, excluding the day it will be cooked. A faster way to thaw your bird is to place it in a sink full of cold water, making sure to drain the water and refill every 30 minutes. Make sure your sink is clean and sanitized before doing so. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature.
When you’re preparing your turkey for the big day, remove giblets and neck, you may keep these items for gravy if you so desire. Rinse your turkey thoroughly under cold water, using paper towels to pat the bird dry, being sure to get the inside neck and cavity. If you’re going to stuff your turkey, now is the time. Then, bend the wings toward the body and gently tuck under. Be sure to tie the legs together with string and then place your turkey in the center of a roasting pan. The turkey should be for 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Example, if you have a 15 pound turkey, you should allow it to cook for 3 hours and 45 minutes. Be sure to check the internal temperature of your turkey. The temperature should be a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the innermost part of the thigh. Before carving the bird, allow 20 minutes to rest.
Once your turkey is carved and eaten, if you have leftovers refrigerate them as soon as possible. Do not keep any leftovers more than 2 days and if you decide to freeze them, do so in small portions. Reheat any leftovers to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Have a safe and yummy holiday!