Holiday season is approaching and that means you will likely be purchasing a turkey for a family gathering. It is important that the turkey is prepared properly to avoid any food poisoning, that often occurs during the thawing process. Turkeys are available now and it might be a good idea to purchase early so you have the selection and price to meet your needs.
If you wait until the week of Thanksgiving to purchase a fresh turkey keep in mind that it needs to be cooked right away before it goes bad. If you freeze the turkey, it takes 4 days at a rate of 4 pounds per day to defrost. As it defrosts juice will come out. The turkey should defrost breast side up on a cookie sheet to avoid making a mess in your refrigerator. Maintain a temperature of 40 degrees in your refrigerator while the turkey is waiting to be cooked to avoid food poisoning.
The turkey can also be defrosted by submerging in a cold bath in the sink, but it takes a lot of time (2 pounds per hour average) and a constant water change to keep the water cool. It is very important to ALWAYS keep the turkey cold before ready to cook. Try to remove the giblets from the frozen turkey before thawing to speed up the process. If turkey is not thawing quickly enough, you may have to cut into smaller pieces. It won’t be pretty, but if you are going after flavor, versus aesthetics, it is an option.
Always avoid thawing a turkey on the kitchen countertop, outside, or in an oven. Bacteria grows quickly and you don’t want to get yourself or anyone very sick.
After the turkey is thawed and you are ready to prepare the bird, remove the packaging and rinse thoroughly the inside cavity and the outside. Towel dry and add salt and pepper throughout. If the turkey is pre-brined it comes complete with seasonings injected into the turkey.
Turkeys should be cooked at a lower temperature of 325 degrees for 3-5 hours depending on the weight. 8-10 pounds is 3 hours with 20 minutes added for each additional pound of the turkey. Butter spread onto the skin will help the turkey to have a nice browning. Keep in mind that every time the oven is opened it takes longer to heat back up and may dry out the turkey.
A meat thermometer is the best way to check the doneness of your meat. Use a digital thermometer and check the temp in the thick part of the thigh at 2.5 hours cooking, and then every 15 minutes. It should read 155-165 degrees. It will continue to cook for some time after removing from oven. Wait for turkey to cool 30 minutes before carving.
Deep fry, roast, grill, or smoke a turkey! Any way you cook it caution must be taken preparing the bird so you can enjoy it after it is cooked!
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