The holiday season is upon us. Our minds turn to the delicious aromas of Thanksgiving wafting from
the kitchens of celebrations-past. The busy cook hosting this years' gathering, however, doesn't always
get to enjoy the thoughts of pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce. Instead, he or she worries about the turkey...
"How long should I cook it? Which method should I use? What's the right temperature for cooking it?"
The answers to six of the most-asked turkey-roasting questions are right here. Keep reading and plan to enjoy your
What size turkey do I need to buy?
Plan for at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person when purchasing
a whole turkey. You'll have enough for the feast and for leftovers, too.
How should I defrost the turkey?
Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
Whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in
the refrigerator. In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, turkey takes
about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. When using a microwave to thaw a turkey, follow the
manufacturer's instructions for the size turkey that will fit in your
oven, the minutes per pound and the power level to use.
Never defrost turkey on the counter.
Once thawed, keep turkey refrigerated at 40 degrees F. or below until
it is ready to be cooked. Turkey thawed in the microwave should be cooked
How should I stuff the turkey?
Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately
before it's placed in the oven for cooking. If preparing the stuffing
ahead-of-time, wet and dry ingredients should be refrigerated separately
and combined right before stuffing the turkey.
Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
Test the suffing for doneness. Place a meat thermometer in the center
of the stuffing. Once the stuffing has reached 160 to 165 degrees F., the stuffing is done.
Do not remove the turkey from the oven until the stuffing has reached the required temperature.
For over 100 stuffing recipes, visit Allrecipes.com.
Do I have to stuff the turkey?
No. If you do not stuff your turkey, add about 2 cups of coarsely chopped celery and onion, with a few sprigs of fresh sage, to the
cavity to enhance the fragrance and add to the flavor of the pan juices.
How do I cook the turkey?
According to Sherrie Rosenblatt, director of public relations for the National Turkey Federation (NTF),
the open pan dry heat cooking method is the easiest and most reliable
of all cooking methods and results in a juicy, tender, flavorful golden
brown turkey. Just follow these easy steps:
- Thaw the turkey and remove neck and giblets from the neck and
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. for conventional ovens.
- Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
If cooking stuffing inside the turkey, fill the body cavity with stuffing
- Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh,
not touching bone.
- Roast the turkey, uncovered, until the meat thermometer registers
180 degrees F. Use the roasting timetable below to estimate approximate cooking
time. If stuffed, make sure the temperature of the stuffing has reached
160 to 165 degrees F. before removing the turkey from the oven.
How long should I cook the turkey?
The following chart shows the NTF's turkey roasting guidelines for a fresh or thawed turkey cooked at
325 degrees F. on the lowest rack. Remember, these are just guidelines; use a meat
thermometer to check for actual doneness.
|8 to 12 pounds
||2 3/4 to 3 hours
||3 to 3 1/2 hours
|12 to 14 pounds
||3 to 3 3/4 hours
||3 1/2 to 4 hours
|14 to 18 pounds
||3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
||4 to 4 1/4 hours
|18 to 20 pounds
||4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
||4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
|20 to 24 pounds
||4 1/2 to 5 hours
||4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours
|24 to 30 pounds
||5 to 5 1/4 hours
||5 1/4 to 6 1/4 hours
For more information, visit the NTF's website at www.EatTurkey.com
You will find recipes, tips, recommendations and the 2003 How to Guide for Thanksgiving.
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