Kitchen Tips - November 2010

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our Cook's Tips this month focus on the turkey. These reminders will ensure that the bird will arrive at the table done to perfection and the leftovers will be safely stored to enjoy in the days after. Save these for handy reference as you prepare your Thanksgiving meal.

  • To be sure you have enough turkey for leftovers, allow 1 1/2 lbs. per person.
  • Fresh or frozen? Many people feel that a fresh bird has better flavor and texture. Have you ever wondered why the insides of birds labeled "fresh" are icy? Many turkeys are deep-chilled to 26° F, which freezes the meat to a semi-solid state. This process prolongs the turkey's shelf life but doesn't drastically affect the flavor or texture, and the bird can be called "fresh." The label doesn’t have to say "frozen" unless the poultry has been processed at or below 0° F.
  • Holiday TurkeyTo defrost frozen turkey, allow 24 hrs. for every 5 lbs. in the refrigerator or defrost in a sink of cold water allowing 30 min. per pound, changing the water every 30 min.
  • Turkey is done when the thigh meat reaches 180° F. Insert the thermometer deep into the thickest part of the turkey's thigh, parallel to the thigh bone. Do not let the thermometer touch the bone, which conducts heat, or you will get an inaccurate reading. If you stuffed the bird, the temperature of the dressing should be 160° F.
  • The turkey is out of the oven, but don't rush to carve it. Let the roasted turkey stand, covered, at room temperature for at least 20 min. and up to 45 min. to allow the juices to retract back into the meat. Don’ t worry. The bird will stay warm. The resting period also frees the oven for cooking or reheating other foods.
  • For food safety, all meat should be removed from the carcass and refrigerated within 2 hrs. of removing from the oven.
  • Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: Open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time during most of November and on the weekend before Thanksgiving from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Call 800-288-8372, or for 24 hr. help, log on to butterball.com.
  • USDA Meat & Poultry Hot Line: Open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, except on Thanksgiving, when hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Call 800-535-4555.

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