TurkeyTip Tuesday: Buy/Order Your Bird

It’s already November 1st. Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and you don’t want to be left holding the (empty) bag. Now is the time to purchase and freeze your turkey OR order your turkey, depending on how your supermarket does things. If you go the purchase early and freeze route, be sure to allow enough time to safely thaw your turkey in the refrigerator later.

Turkey Tip Tuesday: The Thaw

It is so important to properly and safely thaw your turkey. AND it takes planning! The two main methods are refrigerator thawing and cold water thawing.

Refrigerator thawing takes more time, but is very easy to do. Just place your turkey (still in the wrapper) in the fridge, breast up and allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of weight.

Cold water thawing requires a little more attention. Place turkey (still in wrapper) breast down in the sink or a large tub. Cover with cold water. Change water every 30 minutes to make sure the surface doesn’t get too warm, which can cause a dangerous growth of bacteria. Allow 30 minutes thaw time per pound of turkey.

 

This is my dad carving last year’s turkey. It was delicious!

Turkey Tip Tuesday: Seasoning

Seasoning your turkey correctly makes all the difference! I love using rosemary, thyme, sage and citrus. I soften some butter, chop my herbs, zest my citrus and mix it all together with plenty of salt and pepper. Then I slather the butter all over the bird that I have patted dry with paper towels (inside and out). I slather the butter under the skin  too. Then I stuff the cavity with more herbs and my citrus fruit that I already used for zest. YUM!

 

It’s all about the butter.

Turkey Tip Tuesday: How Much Turkey?

 

A good rule of thumb for deciding what size turkey to buy is one pound per person. This won’t actually be one pound of meat per person, because there’s a lot of other stuff in there adding weight. AND there will still be plenty of leftovers.

If you’re still not sure how much to buy, try the Butterball calculator. It’s fun!

Thanksgiving Foodie Friday: Turkey Tips

countdown to thanksgiving

There are so many different ways to cook a turkey, and it really isn’t difficult, but it is so intimidating the first time! The thing is to know what size you need, what size you have purchased, and timing.

First thing’s first, how big a turkey do I need? For enough to have leftovers, a good rule of thumb is 1.5 pounds per adult and 1/2 pound per child. Chances are that you won’t be able to get a turkey exactly the size you need. For my own Thanksgiving dinner, I am expecting 8 adults and two children. By this rule of thumb, I would need a 13 pound turkey. I don’t think I’m going to find a turkey that small in a regular grocery store. My options would be to buy turkey pieces or to buy bigger and plan to have more leftovers to freeze.

Once the turkey is purchased, it’s important to know how much it weighs because your thawing and cooking times vary by size. Do not roast a frozen turkey. Make sure it is thawed. The rule of thumb for thawing is one day per every 4 pounds. A 16 pound turkey will take 4 days in the refrigerator to thaw. That is a long time to have an entire turkey sitting and taking up space in the fridge. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead on this.

How long should a turkey be cooked? That is dependent upon the size, cooking method, and cooking temperature. There are so many ways to cook a turkey, that I just can’t go into detail on every one of them. I am going to give you some basic numbers for oven-roasting the whole bird, because I think that’s still the most popular technique. ** NOTE:  I do not stuff my turkey. I think the stuffing comes out too soggy, and it is difficult to get a proper read on the internal temperature. It is just asking for trouble as far as food safety is concerned.

I like to roast my turkey, covered, at 275 for ten minutes per pound, then turn up the heat to 375 and slather the bird in butter and roast uncovered until the internal temperature is 170 degrees F. Once the bird is uncovered, I baste every 30 minutes. You could check your temp, with a meat thermometer, while basting .

Butterball recommends that a turkey be roasted at 325 for about 20 minutes per pound, again until the internal temperature is between 165 and 170 degrees.

What do I do to my turkey before roasting it? I really like to brine my turkey. I use Ree Drummond’s brine recipe. She makes note in her blog that frozen turkeys are already injected with a salt solution and should not be brined. Only brine a fresh turkey.

Other people like to put lemons and herbs into the cavity of the turkey, which infuses it will flavor while it roasts. This makes for a beautiful presentation.

Other options are a dry poultry rub or a glaze. Some turkeys and hams come with a glaze packet ready to go.

My last tip is this one: If you get in a bind or have an emergency question, call the Butterball Turkey Talk Line: 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372)

However you decide to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey, I hope it is stress-free and delicious! Take a picture and post it on Instagram and tag it #jessicaskitchentable

Good luck!!