Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tip Tuesday - Turkey 101

Thanksgiving is getting closer and closer, and it’s time to get serious about planning the dinner menu. Turkey is the traditional meat for the day, but many folks have their own preferences based on heritage and custom.

This Tip Tuesday is all about buying, preparing and serving our favorite bird.

1) When buying a whole turkey, plan on 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per person.

2) To thaw a frozen turkey, place on a sturdy pan in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey. Do not unwrap.

3) After it’s thawed you can brine the turkey for at least 6 hours.

4) Unwrap the turkey, drain off liquid and pat dry with paper towels. The latest information says that poultry does not need to be washed – and that doing so promotes more bacteria and germs. Remove the giblets and save to cook for use in stuffing or gravy. Place the turkey on a rack in a sturdy roasting pan, at least 2” deep. Tuck the wings under and wrap the ends of the drumsticks with foil. Rub with butter or oil and season as desired. Now would be a good time to place aromatics in the cavity – onion, citrus, celery, apples, bay leaves, etc.

5) Roast at 325 degrees per the chart below:

Up to 7 pounds (2 – 2 1/2 hours unstuffed/2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours stuffed)
7 to 9 pounds  (2 1/2 to 3 hours unstuffed/2 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours stuffed)
9 to 18 pounds (3 to 3 1/2 hours unstuffed/3 3/4 to 4 1/2 hours stuffed)
18 to 22 pounds (3 1/2 to 4 hours unstuffed/4 1/2 to 5 hours stuffed)
22 to 24 pounds (4 to 4 1/2 hours unstuffed/5 to 5 1/2 hours stuffed)
24 to 30 pounds (4 1/2 to 5 hours unstuffed/5 1/2 to 6 1/4 hours stuffed)

6) When an instant-read thermometer reads 180 degrees in the thigh, the turkey is done. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes before carving. If stuffed, the stuffing should be at 165 degrees.

7) Cook the giblets in chicken broth seasoned with poultry seasoning (or the turkey rub mixture), cool and cut up for stuffing or gravy.

8) Handy tools would be the instant-read thermometer, of course, and a set of turkey lifters. A fat separator would remove the fat from the delicious drippings that you’ll use for the gravy.

9) When dinner is over, separate the meat from the bones and cool thoroughly.

Some other hints:

1) Make your mashed potatoes early in the day, but make them a bit thinner than usual. Pour them into a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray and leave on low heat until serving time.

2) If there are lumps in your gravy, either strain it through a sieve or use an immersion blender to smooth it out. If it’s a little thin, a few instant potato flakes will help thicken it.

“Magic” Turkey:

I heard about this a year or two ago, but have actually never tried it. If you have, please share how it turned out for you! This one you start the night before Thanksgiving.

Simply prepare the turkey for roasting as above and place it in a preheated 300 degree oven. Roast for 1 hour, then turn the oven down to 165 degrees. Leave the oven closed and let it set at 165 degrees overnight. In the morning the turkey should be at proper serving temperature. And that leaves your oven free for all the other dishes.

I’d definitely be sure to check the temperature on this one. And don’t stuff the bird when doing this.

It seems there’s always a new idea for doing turkeys, but I stick with the old tried and true. In the past I’ve heard about roasting them in paper bags, roasting them breast-side down, and even butterflying them for quicker roasting.
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This is Geography Awareness Week – do they still teach that in school? It’s also National Hunger & Homeless Awareness Week, as well as World Kindness Week and National Young Readers Week.

Tomorrow is World Kindness Day. Thursday we’ll observe National Pickle Day and World Diabetes Day.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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