BUTLER, Mo. – Don’t get stuck with a turkey that’s too small for the feast or one that’s frozen solid on Thanksgiving morning.

Buying the right size turkey and planning ahead for defrost time can prevent Thanksgiving Day disasters.

“If you want to have leftovers after Thanksgiving, make sure you buy one pound of whole turkey per person,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

A rule of thumb is 3/4 pound of turkey per person if you don’t want leftovers or if you’re cooking a turkey breast, Roberts said. For a boneless turkey breast, you’ll need 1/2 pound per person.

In the grocery store, turkeys might be labeled hens or toms. Many believe hens to be tenderer, but Roberts said that’s not true. Hen and tom are just references to the size of the bird, she said, and hens are smaller than toms.

Once you’ve picked an appropriately proportioned bird, you’ll need to plan ahead to defrost it in time.

“The safest way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator,” Roberts said. “You need to allow one day of thawing for every five pounds of turkey.”

That means you need to start defrosting the average bird four to five days before Thanksgiving. If time is short, the quicker — but still safe — way to defrost a turkey is with a cold-water bath, Roberts said. Completely submerge the wrapped turkey in cold water and change the water every half hour. Using this method, it takes about a half hour thawing for every pound of turkey.

Most importantly, never defrost a turkey on the countertop at room temperature.

“If you want to thaw the turkey on the counter, just get the thought out of your mind because it’s not safe,” Roberts said.

When you leave a whole, frozen turkey out at room temperature, the outside reaches 40 degrees F while the inside is still frozen. At that temperature, harmful bacteria can grow that increase the chances of serving a bird that might make people sick.

You can defrost a turkey in a microwave, but parts of the turkey will get warmer than others.

“Once it’s finished in the microwave you need to put it in the oven immediately,” Roberts said.

Choosing the right size turkey and defrosting safely will ensure a sensational turkey feast this year.

 

Purchasing, Thawing and Cooking Turkey: http://missourifamilies.org/features/nutritionarticles/nut200.htm

Read more http://extension.missouri.edu/news/DisplayStory.aspx?N=2667

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