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       Volume I - October 15, 2010

Turkey Questions - And Answers!
by Patty Liston

I don’t know about you, but it seems like before every holiday I need to brush up on my turkey facts! I can never remember how much to get, how long to cook, whether to get fresh or frozen; you get the idea.

Fortunately, I came across some good information on all things turkey that I would like to pass on to you—and keep for myself. Hopefully, this little reminder will come to you just in time!

Fresh or Frozen Turkey?
Frozen turkeys are widely available and often on sale during the holidays. Some are prebasted to enhance juiciness. You can buy them well in advance of Thanksgiving, but you'll need to allow enough time for them to thaw.

Fresh turkeys are preferred by many people but are usually more expensive, have a shorter shelf life, and may need to be special-ordered. Don't buy one more than two days ahead.

What is the Difference Between Turkeys?
Kosher turkeys are salted as part of the koshering process, so no additional salt is needed. This process makes the meat very tender and juicy, similar to the results you'd get from a brined bird.

Organic turkeys are raised and fed without the use of antibiotics, hormones or artificial flavors or colors It is against the law to use hormones on any turkey, so even your frozen non-branded will be hormone free.

Free-range turkeys are raised and allowed free access to feed outdoors.

Prepackaged turkeys have water added to keep the meat moist.

How Much Turkey Meat Should I Plan on Per Person?
The rule is 1 pound of uncooked turkey per person. That gives you enough for everyone to have a generous serving, with leftovers for the weekend.

What if Most of My Family Wants Breast Meat?
Cook an additional turkey breast. If your family prefers dark meat, on the other hand, cook two small turkeys instead of one large one.

Can I Cook a Turkey I’ve Kept in the Freezer from Last Year?
Properly wrapped poultry can be kept for up to one year if it is frozen below 0 degrees F. Keep whole uncooked turkeys in their original packaging when you freeze them.

Frozen Turkey! How Do I Thaw It?
The best way: Place frozen turkey (still in packaging) in a shallow pan on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours thawing time for every 4 to 5 pounds. A thawed bird can keep up to 4 days in the fridge.

Last-minute solution: Place a still-wrapped turkey in a large cooler or bowl and submerge in cold water. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound and change the water every 30 minutes. Cook turkey immediately.

What Is the Best Turkey Roasting Method?

  • Place the turkey (breast side up) on a rack in a large roasting pan in an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. If you don't have a rack, place 2 or 3 large carrots crosswise underneath the bird to ensure good heat circulation.

  • For moist meat, cover with foil from the start — but remove foil during the last hour of roasting for browner, crispier skin.

  • Basting with pan juices isn't necessary, but it will help with browning after the foil is removed.

  • Roast turkey 3 to 3 3/4 hours for a 12- to 14-pounder. (That's around 15 to 17 minutes per pound for an unstuffed bird.)

  • Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test doneness. Turkey should be taken out of the oven when the thickest part of the thigh (next to but not touching the bone) reaches 175 degrees F and the breast reaches 165 degrees F. Keep in mind that temperature will rise 5 degrees to 10 degrees F upon standing.

  • If the turkey is fully cooked earlier than expected, wrap the entire bird and pan with foil and place a large bath towel on top to keep it hot and moist for 1 hour. Never leave at room temperature longer than 2 hours.

    How Long Will Left-Over’s Stay Fresh?
    Cooked poultry should be kept refrigerated for a maximum of three to four days; stuffing and gravy are good for one to two days. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

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