Written by Maureen Rowan Murphy, Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles

Hosting Thanksgiving for the first time can be a bit intimidating but it doesn’t need to be.  The source of most angst comes from the fear of cooking a turkey when in fact, it is amazingly easy! Let this guide give you the confidence you need and take the guesswork out of preparing a delicious turkey for your special holiday meal.

Buying a Turkey

Turkeys are available in all sizes, whole or parts, fresh or frozen. Choosing between fresh or frozen turkeys is simply a matter of preference. There is no significant difference in quality.

Store fresh turkey in the refrigerator up to the sell-by date on the label or place in freezer if you plan on using after that date. Fresh turkeys are chilled after packaging to approximately 26°F to assure optimum quality, safety and freshness. It will feel firm to the touch, and ice may be found in the cavity as a result of moisture in the turkey freezing at 26°F (water freezes at 32°F, while protein (meat) doesn’t freeze until 0°F). If there are ice crystals, simply place breast-side down in cold water and allow to stand for 30 minutes or until no longer present.

If you’re purchasing a frozen turkey, you can do so at any time, but be sure to allow enough time for it to thaw. Whole turkey can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely, but should be cooked within 1 year for best quality. 

Not sure what size turkey to purchase? Plan on approximately 1 lb. of turkey per person, which will allow for generous servings and leftovers. That being said, the larger the turkey, the greater the yield. A turkey larger than 16 lbs. will provide 2 servings/lb. i.e. a 20 lb. turkey will feed 40 people.

Thawing a Turkey

Thawing in the refrigerator is the preferred method of thawing. Estimate at least one day of thawing for every 4 lbs. of turkey. (You can insert a chart similar to the one you included in the email to me.) A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking.

Although refrigerator thawing is preferred, don’t worry if you forgot to take the turkey out in enough time to thaw. You may also thaw the turkey in cold water or in the microwave if necessary.

To thaw in cold water: Place the turkey breast-side down in its original wrapper in cold water to cover, and change the water changed every 30 minutes to keep the turkey surface cold. Minimum thawing time will be approximately 30 minutes per pound, and the turkey must be cooked immediately upon thawing.

To thaw in the microwave: Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave, recommended minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing. The turkey must be cooked immediately once it is thawed.

Roasting a Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in shallow roasting pan – do not add water. Brush with cooking oil, melted butter or margarine if desired. Loosely tent with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, allow for maximum heat circulation, keep the turkey moist and reduce oven splatters. You’ll want to remove the foil tent 20 – 30 minutes before roasting is finished to allow the turkey to brown.

Most turkeys today come with pop-up timers, and they are generally accurate. If your turkey doesn’t come with one, it is recommended that a meat thermometer be used as it is the safest way to ensure that the turkey is done. The thermometer should be inserted into the inner most part of the breast/thigh area without touching bone. The turkey is done when the thermometer reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. (Cooking to 165°F may give the appearance that meat at joint areas is undercooked, and although cooked, may be pink from the bone marrow. You may therefore choose to cook turkey to a higher internal temperature.) I like to use a meat thermometer even with a pop-up timer, not only for peace of mind so I know the turkey has reached 165°F, but also to check on how the turkey is progressing for timing of side dishes and serving.

Use this roasting chart only as a guide for cooking times.

TURKEY ROASTING CHART at 325°F

Weight (Pounds)                 Unstuffed (Hours)*             Stuffed (Hours)*

8 – 12                                     2 ¾ – 3                                   3 – 3 ½

12 – 14                                  3 – 3 ¾                                    3 ½ – 4

14 – 18                                  3 ¾ – 4 ¼                                4 – 4 ¼

18 – 20                                  4 ¼ – 4 ½                                4 ¼ – 4 ¾

20 – 24                                  4 ½ – 5                                    4 ¾ – 5 ¼

*Estimated cooking time

 Important Safety Tips to Remember

  • Don’t partially roast a stuffed turkey one day and complete roasting the next since interrupted cooking enhances possibility of bacterial growth.
  • Roasting turkey at temperatures below 325°F is not recommended, as temperature is not high enough to destroy bacteria and could be unsafe.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline actually recommends NOT stuffing the turkey. If it is stuffed, the stuffing may not reach the correct temperature of 165°F to kill bacteria even if the turkey itself reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Stuffing the turkey prolongs the cooking time and prohibits uniform cooking.

 Here are some basic rules to follow if you do plan on stuffing the turkey:

Prepare stuffing just before it goes into the turkey. Dry ingredients can be mixed together and chilled ahead of time. Mix perishable (butter or margarine, mushrooms, sausage, oysters, broth, cooked celery and onions) ingredients however, just prior to placing stuffing inside the turkey and putting the turkey in the preheated oven. Stuffing should be moist, rather than dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a wet environment

Stuff the cavity of the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey to allow the interior of the stuffing to reach the proper 165°F temperature in the center, and use a meat thermometer to ensure it has.

Remove the stuffing from the turkey as soon as it is completely cooled to prevent bacterial growth.

Storing Leftovers

Leftover turkey as well as any other holiday leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.  If you don’t intend to eat by then, wrap the turkey well, place in the freezer, and use within 1 month for best eating pleasure.

Now that you’re ready to take on the Thanksgiving turkey, check out my Countdown to Thanksgiving to assist in planning, organizing and executing a Thanksgiving dinner sure to impress! Check it out here: https://bit.ly/2KMApJ0

Written by Maureen Rowan Murphy, Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition and Lifestyles

Organizing and timing are key elements when it comes to preparing any meal, but especially a special dinner. This countdown is intended as a guide to make it easier to prepare a stress free, delicious Thanksgiving meal that you too can enjoy!!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

 

The weekend before:

• Shop for items that can be purchased ahead.

• Prepare and freeze anything that can be made in advance.

• Develop a food preparation schedule.

The day before Thanksgiving:

• Purchase fresh items like vegetables.

• Set table or set up serving areas and set out serving pieces/utensils.

• Set up beverage area.

• Measure out dry stuffing ingredients, cover and set aside to mix with perishable ingredients prior to stuffing or placing in a casserole dish.

Thanksgiving Day:

Early in the day

• Post a list of food and check off so nothing is forgotten.

• Remove turkey from the refrigerator, unwrap, remove giblets, and set aside if using. Place in a roasting pan and refrigerate until ready to rest.

• Pick up any prepared food. (Our stores are open until 3pm Thanksgiving day.)

4 to 6 hours before serving

• Peel and cut up potatoes and cover with cold water until ready to cook.

• Prepare stuffing,

2 hours before serving

• Cook giblets is using.

• Place condiments such as cranberry sauce, olives, carrots, celery and pickles.

• Add any finishing touches to make ahead recipes.

1 hour before serving

• Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest.

• Place stuffing in oven to bake if baking in a casserole dish as advised.

• Drain potatoes, add salt and fresh water. Cook, drain, and mash. Place in an ovenproof casserole and keep warm in oven.

• Make gravy.

15 minutes before serving

• Carve Turkey.

• Bake rolls according to package directions.

• Pour beverages.

• Place condiments on table.

• Add any finishing touches to side dishes.

• Light candles.

Happy Thanksgiving! From Our Family to Yours! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to get together with your family, friends and loved ones. As you gather to celebrate what makes you truly thankful, Price Chopper & Market 32 want to make it easier for you to prepare and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner! Let us help you with tips, recipes and party planning options so you can focus on what makes you thankful (and not stressed!). holiday_meal THANKSGIVING DINNER PLANNING The Weekend Before: The Days leading up to Thanksgiving: The BIG Day: THANKSGIVING Early in The Day 4-6 hours before Serving 2 hours before Serving 1 hour before Serving 15 minutes before Serving ENJOY YOUR MEAL! Written by Sara Lilkas, Marketing Intern  Thanksgiving is right around the corner and for almost everyone it is a day to be thankful for what they have, spend time with family, and most importantly eat a delicious Thanksgiving Feast. Since the majority of us are guests at these Thanksgiving events we do not have to worry about cooking many of the complex dishes that are expected to be served as part of the festivities. Now even for experienced cooks, the Thanksgiving meal can be a daunting task. Even if you aren’t cooking for a large group of people there are usually high expectations that go along with Thanksgiving dinners and no one wants to disappoint their guests. Holiday dinnerIf you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, it is essential to sit down and plan out the tasks that need to be completed ahead of time and create your plan of attack. At this point you have to think about what kind of planning works for you. I like making lists where I can check things off as I do them. (For some reason the physical act of checking something off makes me feel like I’m actually accomplishing something and makes the whole task seem more bearable.)  I find it especially helpful when I am presented with tasks that seem overwhelming or difficult. As with almost everything in this world what works for me might not work for you, so it might be beneficial to host a smaller gathering (maybe with a few friends) as a test run to see how you like to plan or organize these kind of events. Now that you know how you want to organize your Thanksgiving dinner, it’s time to actually plan it. Starting to prep around two weeks in advance is the ideal time frame. This is when recipes should be gathered and narrowed down to the final menu. When planning the menu think about what time you are planning to serve dinner as well as what kitchen tools will be needed for each dish and how long everything takes to prep and prepare. As part of the planning process you will want to make sure you have everything required to complete those recipes. Timing is another thing to consider. Since it’s safe to assume most people only have one oven, planning out the space andiStock_000006683483_Medium time every dish needs to be fully cooked is essential. At this point go back through your planned menu and see what can be prepped and prepared ahead of time. Items such as pie crust dough and cranberry sauce can be made a few days ahead a time. Many vegetables can also be chopped and prepped ahead of time. Take a look at the menu and decide which items can be prepped early to save you some time on Thanksgiving Day. Now let’s get talking about that turkey. The weight of your turkey determines how long it takes to defrost if you have purchased a frozen turkey. It could take DAYS!( Please refer to our We Know Turkey guide for more information about defrosting and cooking turkeys!)Make sure you plan accordingly, no one wants a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving Day! Also make sure you have a safe environment to thaw your turkey out in. Plan out how you are going to cook your turkey and if you are worried about how it will turn out, it’s not a bad idea to practice on a smaller turkey or a whole chicken in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Pricechopper has plenty of different turkey recipes to try out and who knows maybe one will become your new holiday favorite! I hope these tips help to make your holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable! Make sure to share your Thanksgiving table pictures with #PriceChopper and #Market32 on Twitter and Instagram!