By Gina Noe
I am writing this article on Halloween, we are expecting high winds and rain this evening. The leaves are turning, and I believe fall is finally here.
That means Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and it is time for the traditional “Turkey Talk” article.
If you plan on serving turkey for your holiday meal here are a few tips you may want to review. Planning ahead can save money, time and possibly a case of food-borne illness. You can have a great meal and also enjoy the family and friends you will be sharing it with.
Frozen turkey will keep up to one year. Check fresh turkey for the sell-by date. Cook and serve within two days of this date. Vacuum packaged fresh turkey has a shelf life of up to 10 days. Make sure the package has no holes or tears. Plan on 1 and a quarter pounds per person for generous portions and leftovers.
Thawing is best done on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for each five pounds of weight. Option 2 for thawing is cold water immersion. Place wrapped turkey in the sink and cover with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Do not thaw at room temperature.
Cook the bird breast side up on a rack in a shallow pan. Cover with a loose aluminum foil tent. Insert meat thermometer through foil into the inner thigh muscle. Bake in a 325 degree oven. Do not cook at a low temperature. Remove foil the last 20-30 minutes for browning. Cook until meat thermometer reads 180 degrees F, approximately 15 minutes per pound.
After the feast remember the two-hour rule. Store turkey, dressing, gravy and other goodies within two hours after removing them from the oven or range top. Use shallow containers to allow rapid cooling. Cooked turkey may be refrigerated up to three to four days. If the turkey is frozen, wrap tightly and use within three months. Heat leftovers thoroughly and enjoy.
For more details on preparing your Thanksgiving meal or for additional recipes to use your leftover turkey, call the Madison County Cooperative Extension Service at 623-4072 or the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline toll-free at 1-800-535-4555.
Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.