Turkey Day tips


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Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  It can be a very stressful time but it doesn’t have to be.  I would like to share some tips from thekitchn.com on how to deal when the day throws you a curveball.

Here are some of their really helpful tips.

How much turkey should I buy?

The rule of thumb is 1 pound per person, more if you want leftovers.  Remember, the bird is about 60% bone, so consider this when you consider what size turkey to buy.  In other words, a 12 pound turkey will yield about 5  pounds of meat.  If you have a smaller crowd, consider a turkey breast, or tenderloins.  You can also make turkey thighs or drumsticks for the dark meat.

How long do I need to thaw a frozen turkey?

You’ll need about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. But allow plenty of time; it never hurts to take it out of the freezer with an extra day to spare.

If you’re running short on time, you can speed up the thawing process by submerging the frozen turkey, still in its packaging, in cold tap water. Change out the water every 30 minutes, and estimate roughly 30 minutes for every pound of turkey.

If your guests are due to arrive in a few hours and your turkey is still frozen solid, don’t try to rush things by thawing your turkey in warm water, leaving it on the counter, blowing it with a hair dryer, or any other shortcuts. All of these methods put the turkey within the “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F for longer than is safe, and your risk of food poisoning increases drastically.

Don’t panic! It’s actually completely safe to cook a frozen, or partially frozen turkey. Roast it at 325°F and increase the cooking time by about 50 percent if totally frozen, or about 25 percent if partially frozen. This works because the heat of the oven keeps the turkey out of the danger zone; as the turkey thaws, it also starts to cook. Remove the giblets as soon as they are thawed enough to do so, and season the turkey with salt, pepper, and other spices halfway through cooking. The turkey is done when it registers at least 165°F in all areas.

How do I know when the turkey is done?

The turkey is done when an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thigh and breast meat.

When the turkey reaches the correct temperature, take it out of the oven, tent it loosely in foil, and let it rest so the juices have a chance to redistribute. If you leave the thermometer in the thigh, you’ll notice the temperature rising a bit before the turkey starts to cool again.

Another test to see if the turkey is done cooking is if the juices run clear. Cut a small slit in the meat at various places around the turkey and press just above the cut with the flat of your knife. If the juices that run out are clear, the turkey is done. If you see any red tinge of blood, keep cooking for a little longer.

Just making a turkey breast?

Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour, then check for doneness.  The breast is done when an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees.  If not done in one hour, check the temperature every ten minutes until done.  Let it rest for about 20-30 minutes.

Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time?  Don’t sweat it!

  • Never turn down help.  Don’t be a martyr-ask away. Delegate, delegate, delegate! Have a potluck and you supply the turkey and gravy.  Everyone brings a dish.
  • Make as much ahead as possible, then refrigerate or freeze.   Reheat on the day.
  • Don’t experiment with new recipes.  I will be making new recipes this year but it is just my husband and I.  If you are having company, don’t do it!
  • Start early on non-food prep.  Iron tablecloths, clean china etc.  ahead of time.
  • Consider making the turkey the day before.  In fact,  I am making turkey drumsticks the day before in the crockpot.  I am also making turkey tenderloins but will make those the day of.  They cook very quickly.
  • Set the table the night before.  Cover with a sheet if you are concerned about dust, or cats, etc.
  • Have cocktails or wine ready to go.  Diners won’t be upset if dinner is delayed if they have a drink in their hand!
  • Forego appetizers.  Leave room for the main meal.
  • Rely on prebaked pies and premade items.  You don’t have to make everything from scratch.  This also goes for gluten and dairy free items.
  • Make a timeline and master list for everything that has to happen.  This includes dishes to be served (I always forget to serve the cranberry sauce), cooking times and temperatures, etc.
  • Don’t forget to shower!  Leave time for yourself to clean up and relax a bit.
  • Enjoy the day, and the company.  Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Have a wonderful, stress-free, gluten free Thanksgiving!

 

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