Thanksgiving is next week and we’re all thinking about that turkey and all of the fixins we’re going to eat. To add just a moment of reality to our blog, according to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s 3,000 for the meal and another 1,500 for snacks and nibbles. Yikes!
Wondering how much of that meal is turkey? Americans will eat 46 million turkeys over this food fest holiday. More turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving than any other holiday including Christmas. Getting those birds on the dinner table can be a challenge, so we thought we would offer some tips.
According to our friends at Culinary Arts, there are 4 ways to thaw your bird and they don’t recommend 3 of them. By the way, if you’re reading this article on Thanksgiving morning and your turkey is still in the freezer none of the suggested methods will work for you. Click here for a connection to cooking a frozen turkey.
Do not thaw at room temperature
Like on the kitchen counter, or the dining room table, or in any other room of your house. Or dare we say it, the bathroom, thawing a turkey at room temperature is a terrible idea. Uncooked meat or poultry (including frozen) shouldn't be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Any longer than that and you're just begging for a case of food poisoning. So, don't even think about this one.
Don’t thaw in the microwave
First of all, most microwaves are too small. If you have a turkey small enough to cram into your microwave, you don't really need to resort to this method in the first place. There's a better option for you a bit further down the page.
But even supposing you had some colossal microwave oven, this still would not be a very good plan. Given the number of different wattages, power levels, minutes per pound and other variables, the most likely outcome of microwave thawing is a turkey that's still frozen in some parts, while other parts are already cooked. Not good. Stay away from this method.
Don’t thaw in cold water
It's technically possible to safely thaw a frozen turkey in a sink full of cold water, but it won't be easy. The problem is, you need to allow 30 minutes of thawing time for every pound of frozen bird, and you MUST keep the water at 40°F or colder the entire time. For a large turkey, that means monitoring the temperature and changing the water every half hour for 12 hours!
What's so special about 40°F? If the turkey gets any warmer than that, it gives dangerous bacteria a chance to multiply like crazy. So unless you're strictly committed to changing the water up to 24 times, don't bother with this method. And by the way, whatever you do, don't try to thaw a turkey in HOT water. That's even worse.
Do thaw your turkey in the refrigerator
Thawing in the refrigerator is the ONLY safe way to defrost a frozen turkey. Here's how to do it:
- Make sure that your refrigerator is at 40°F or colder.
- Leave the turkey in its original wrapper.
- Place the bird on a tray or in a pan to collect any juices that leak out.
- Keep it at the bottom of your fridge so that any leakage won't contaminate anything below.
- Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of frozen turkey.
Storing Your Left Overs
Two-Hour Storage: Store leftovers in separate containers within two hours after cooking.
Three Days to Eat: Your leftovers will last 3 days in the refrigerator. Eat or freeze leftover turkey within that time period.
Dean and Draper
We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with laughter, family, friends, and lots of wonderful food.
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