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Q: What do I need to know when preparing a Thanksgiving turkey?

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column

A: Preparing the perfect turkey is easy. But keep important numbers in mind. Estimate one pound per person of uncooked turkey for quantity.  Plan 2.5 days to defrost a 12-pound turkey, or five hours per pound.

If you don’t defrost your bird, you can cook it in the oven. Don’t grill, smoke, microwave or deep-fry a frozen turkey. Take the recommended cooking time for a thawed turkey and add 50 percent of that time to the original time.

Roasting times at 325o F for unstuffed turkey*
• 8 – 12 pounds: 2.75 to 3 hours
• 12 – 14 pounds: 3 to 3.75 hours
• 14 – 18 pounds: 3.75 to 4.25 hours
• 18 – 20 pounds: 4.25 to 4.5 hours
• 20 – 24 pounds: 4.5 to 5 hours

Turkey should be 165o F fully cooked. If the turkey hasn’t reached this temperature at the breast, outer thigh and inside thigh, continue to cook for 20 more minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil to keep it from overcooking.

*The USDA recommends cooking stuffing separately.  Cooked turkey can safely sit at room temperature for two hours before it should be refrigerated.

Information provided by Shelley Woodall, RD, LD, Hy-Vee Dietitian, 823 Second St., Webster City, 515-832-3117

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