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Avoiding a Fowl Mood

Whether you need cooking advice, tasty recipes, or just a little handholding, let the Butterball experts help you prepare a sumptuous feast this Thanksgiving.

Article
Donna Leahey
Photos
Courtesy
Posted
October 29, 2017

Even experienced Thanksgiving chefs can have questions, but if this is your first time preparing your family’s holiday feast, the pressure can be overwhelming. Everything from meeting weighty in-law expectations to food safety looms overhead.

No fear, though. The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line experts have your back. Here’s just a taste of some of the questions they can answer for you:

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I'm having a large gathering. How big should my turkey be?
If you have one and a half pounds of turkey per person, you’ll have enough for everyone to dish up generous servings and enjoy sandwiches from the leftovers after.

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Should I get a fresh turkey? Or is frozen better?
Fresh turkeys don’t require thawing, but should be cooked quickly after purchasing. Frozen birds can be bought weeks before they’re needed, but it can take several days to safely thaw them. Fully cooked turkeys are also available. Just warm it up in the oven for an easy, nearly fool-proof bird.

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How do I safely thaw my frozen turkey?
The best and safest method is thawing in your refrigerator. The Talk-Line experts say you should allow one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. In a pinch, you can thaw in cold water. Submerge your bird in a tub or sink. Keep that water cold to make sure your turkey is safe to eat. Then allow 30 minutes per every pound of turkey.

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What about food safety when handling the turkey?
To be safe, make sure you wash your hands often, and keep raw turkey separated from ready-to-eat foods. Wash anything that’s touched raw turkey before using it on other food. Be sure you cook the turkey to a proper temperature (see below), and refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

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What about stuffing?
Stuffing should be prepared just before placing it in the turkey, and you should use only cooked ingredients. Don’t pack it full of stuffing. Loosely fill the neck and body cavities of completely thawed turkey. If it’s too tightly packed, that may affect cooking time and food safety. Butterball.com includes a stuffing calculator to help you figure out how much stuffing to prepare.

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I'm concerned about overcooking the breast and drying it out.
Butterball recommends that when you’re about two thirds of the way through the cooking time, you place foil over the breast and drumsticks to prevent them from overcooking or becoming dry.

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How do I check to make sure my turkey is done?
Even if your turkey comes with a pop up, you should be using a meat thermometer to be sure it’s done. Insert the thermometer deep into the lower thigh and make sure you don’t hit the bone with it. The temperature of the thigh should be 180 degrees. You can and should check your stuffing as well. It should be 160 degrees in the center.

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Why does my turkey need to "rest"?
During cooking, the meat becomes firmer, which pushes juices out of the meat. If you cut into the meat right away, the juices are lost to evaporation. Butterball recommends letting your turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to set.

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When should I make my gravy?
The best time to make your gravy is right before serving it. Otherwise, you run the risk of scorching it or changing the texture during reheating.

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How can Thanksgiving chefs get help from the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line experts this year?
If you’ve got other questions, concerns, or need help with a potential problem, the Talk-Line experts have embraced Social Media. You can find help, tips and tricks from them no matter your preferred platform:

  • Text (844-877-3456): You can reach out to the Turkey Talk-Line via text. Holiday cooking text help stars up Nov. 1, and during the week of Thanksgiving, their hours are extended to be even more available.
  • Facebook and Twitter: You can check out the Butterball Facebook page or Twitter feed for tips and special savings.
  • Pinterest: The Butterball Pinterest account is ready to inspire you with recipes and more for your holiday celebration.
  • Instagram: Check it out for behind-the-scenes pics of recipe development and more.
  • Live Chats: Butterball’s Turkey experts will be available in November and December on Butterball.com for real-time advice and suggestions.
  • Butterball App: You can download the Butterball Cookbook Plus app for Apple or Android devices for fingertip access to recipes and advice.
  • Email: Contact the Talk-Line experts via email by visiting Butterball.com.
  • 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372): Turkey Talk-Line experts will be available this season Nov. 1-Dec. 24, to answer question.