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Roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Posted November 20, 2013 in Advice Column, Downtown

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is the start to the holiday season that runs through New Year’s. To some it might mean it is the start of colder temperatures and the piles of snow. To me Thanksgiving is a holiday when you give thanks for what you have and what the next year might bring.

Follow Hy-Vee’s simple turkey roasting tips below, and you and your guests will be pleasantly pleased with a delicious and juicy golden brown turkey this Thanksgiving. Whether you’re a veteran turkey roaster or a first-timer, it’s important to always follow food safety guidelines. Here are a few tips to ensure a Happy Thanksgiving for everyone this year.

• Defrosting your turkey. Leave the turkey in its original wrapping and place it on a tray in your refrigerator. You should allow five hours per pound defrosting time.

• Cooking a frozen turkey without defrosting. If you don’t defrost your bird, you can cook it in the oven, but don’t grill, smoke, microwave or deep-fry a frozen turkey. Cooking time takes longer than when thawed, but follow the USDA guidelines. Take the recommended cooking time for a thawed turkey and add 50 percent of that time to the original time. For example, a turkey that should take about five hours to roast if already thawed will take about seven hours and 30 minutes to roast if frozen. Remove the giblet packages carefully with tongs during the cooking time.

Roasting time for unstuffed turkeys*
10- to 18-pound turkey: 3 to 3.5 hours
18- to 22-pound turkey:  3.5 to 4 hours
22- to 24-pound turkey:  4 to 4.5 hours
24- to 30-pound turkey:  4.5 to 5 hours

*For optimum safety, the USDA does not recommend stuffing a turkey. For more even cooking, it is recommended to cook the stuffing separately from the turkey. Use a food thermometer to assure the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165º F.
    • Check the temperature. To make sure the turkey is fully cooked, check the temperature in three places: the breast, the outer thigh and the inside thigh. In every case, the meat should be at least 165°F. If any place is lower than that temperature, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil if needed to keep it from overcooking.
    • Leftovers. Once you’ve sat down at the table, don’t forget about the turkey back on the counter. The leftover meat needs to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking.

Information provided by Stacey Wertzberger, Hy-Vee Chef, 4605 Fleur Drive, Des Moines, 515-285-7266.

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