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The Thanksgiving Turkey Top 10

Maureen Murphy, Manager of Consumer Trends, Nutrition & Lifestyles Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching! Here are the 10 most commonly asked questions consumers have when it comes to the holiday bird. When should I buy my turkey? If you’re purchasing a frozen turkey, you can do so at any time, but need to allow enough time for it to thaw.   Check the sell-by date on a fresh turkey as it can be purchased and stored in the refrigerator up to that date on the label. It should be placed in the freezer if you plan to use after that date.   What size turkey should I buy? 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.   How long can you keep a turkey in the freezer? As long as a turkey is kept in the freezer it will remain safe to eat indefinitely as food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, however for best quality it should be cooked within 1 year.   How do I safely thaw my turkey? Thawing in the refrigerator is the preferred method of thawing. Estimate at least one day of thawing for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. 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 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.   Is it safe to wash a turkey? It is not recommended that you wash a turkey! Any bacteria that may be present will be killed by cooking so there is no reason to wash it. You can actually run the risk of cross-contamination if you do wash the turkey as any loosely attached bacteria present can spread up to 2 feet around your kitchen. Bacteria could contaminate your dish towel, soap dispenser, etc. Preparing Stuffed Turkey for Holidays What’s the safe way to stuff a turkey? 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.   Can I cook a turkey ahead of time? You can cook a turkey up to a couple days in advance if desired. Doing so is actually a great time saver and a way to maximize oven space on Thanksgiving Day. If you do cook it in advance, slice the meat off the bone, and refrigerate in shallow containers so it cools quickly. You can also collect the drippings and prepare your gravy ahead of time avoiding that last minute preparation. When it comes time to reheat the turkey: put in a shallow pan, sprinkle with broth or gravy, cover with foil, and place in a preheated 325°F oven for approximately 30 minutes or until it reaches the safe temperature of 165°F. You can cook it earlier Thanksgiving Day if you have the ability to hold it at 140°F or above, but it is not safe to cook it ahead of time and leave it at room temperature.   How long will my turkey take to cook? How can I tell when it’s done? 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.  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.   The roasting chart below is only to be used as a guide.   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 How do I travel with an uncooked and/or cooked turkey? It is easiest to travel with a cold, uncooked turkey – put it in a cooler with ice so you know it is safe and cold when you reach your destination. If you need to bring a cooked turkey, it is safest to cook in advance. Slice the meat off the bone, refrigerate, and pack cold in a cooler with ice to travel, and then reheat at your destination. The only time you should transport a hot turkey is if you live very close to where you’ll be bringing the turkey. If you do, then take the turkey hot out of the oven, wrap in foil, newspapers and towels and place in a box to retain the heat. Be sure that where you are going has the oven on so you can pop the turkey back in as soon as you arrive so it stays at or above 140°. How long will a cooked turkey keep? 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, you can wrap the leftover turkey well and place in the freezer. Use within 2-6 months for best eating pleasure!       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!