Monday, November 17, 2014

Turkey Tips and More to Keep your Thanksgiving Holiday Safe and Happy

Turkey Tips and More to Keep your Thanksgiving Holiday Safe and Happy


The following tips will help keep your turkey safe to eat.

1. If you are using a frozen turkey, allow ample time for it to thaw in your refrigerator.
A twelve pound turkey can take up to four days to thaw in the refrigerator. The time required for your turkey to thaw is dependent on how big it is and the temperature your refrigerator is operating at.

2. Do not thaw your turkey at room temperature. Doing so, allows the exterior of the turkey to get hot enough to support microbial growth while the interior is still frozen solid.

3. If you discover your turkey has not thawed sufficiently in the refrigerator, you may use the following method to help it along:

Put your turkey into a clean sink or container and fill it with cold water (hopefully your sink/container is deep enough for the turkey to be fully covered; if not, turn the turkey over periodically). Leave the turkey in the water for 20 minutes and then drain. Repeat as needed.

4. Be sure to cook your turkey to appropriate temperature; 165˚ F. Use a calibrated stem thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should run clear.

If you suffer from the dreaded dry turkey syndrome you may wish to brine your turkey.  There are two methods of brining a turkey:  wet and dry.  Both methods are detailed below.

Wet Brine
Combine 1 gallon of water, 1 cup sugar and ½ cup kosher salt in a large pan and bring to a boil.
When the sugar and salt are dissolved turn off the heat allow the brine to cool to room temperature (Please do not put the hot brine directly into your refrigerator.  It will raise the temperature to unsafe levels while cooling.  For the same reason, you want the brine to be at least room temperature before you put the turkey in it.).
Place your thawed turkey in a container large enough to hold it and cover with cooled brine.  Place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
When you are ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine.  Dry the turkey with paper towels.
Season and cook your turkey as normal.

A 12 pound turkey will take about 1 ½ - 1 ¾ gallons of brine.
Remember, it must be thawed and refrigerated at a temperature below 39˚ F.
Brining flushes out some blood and helps the bird retain water so you will hopefully wind up with a juicy turkey.
You may also wish to flavor the brine by adding some fresh squeezed orange juice as a part of the water required or by adding orange halves to the brine when you bring it to a boil.  You may also add any herb or aromatic you desire to the brine when bringing it to a boil.

Dry Brine
3 to 6 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 to 5 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt
1 (12- to 14- pound) turkey,* neck and giblets removed
*Avoid brining a kosher turkey, which has already been salted.
1 large rimmed baking sheet or large roasting pan
Arrange the turkey on a large rimmed baking sheet or in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle some salt in the cavity and then liberally all over the turkey, making sure to season the back, joints, legs, and thighs, as well as the breast. Loosely cover the turkey with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. (You can also place the salted turkey in a large plastic bag and seal with a twist tie.) If possible, leave the turkey uncovered for the last 6 hours, to dry out the skin (if not, just be sure to pat it dry before roasting). Remove the turkey from the refrigerator—don't rinse it—and let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so before roasting according to your favorite recipe.
Notes: Only use kosher salt for dry brining. Fine table or sea salt is too concentrated and won't disperse as evenly, nor dissolve as readily, as kosher salt.


Need further assistance with your turkey or other holiday cooking projects?
You may wish to access the following sources of help:

Reynolds Turkey Tips Line
(800) 745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Butterball Turkey Talk Line
(800) BUTTERBALL (800-288-8373) Available November 1 through December 28, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Thanksgiving Day, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST; Nov. 24 to Dec. 25, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.

Honeysuckle White
(800) 810-6325 Recorded answers to frequently asked turkey preparation questions.  24 hours a day.

Crisco Pie Hotline
(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 - 7 EST except for: Nov. 16 - 25 (8am - 8pm EST) and Dec. 14 - 23 (8am - 8pm EST).

Foster Farms
Online primer on cooking turkey.

Perdue Chicken
(800) 473-7383 Available weekdays year-round (except the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m Eastern Time. Thanksgiving week: Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Wednesday 9am to 7 pm EST, Thanksgiving Day, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m EST.
Friday, closed.

Shady Brook Farms Turkey Line
(888) 723-4468. Available 24-hours, 7 days-a-week, automated messages by famous chefs and winemakers, through Jan. 1.

Empire Kosher
(800) 367-4734. Year-round Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST; Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m EST. Closed on Jewish and secular holidays.

Land O' Lakes Holiday Bakeline
(800) 782-9606 Available through Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, CST, 7 days a week.

Betty Crocker
(888) ASK-BETTY (888-275-2388) Open 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. CST weekdays; staffed year-round.
Campbell's Soups Holiday Leftovers Hotline
(888) 453-3868 Open the day after Thanksgiving through December 31 for questions on leftovers; otherwise there are recorded recipes which can be faxed to you.

Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line
(800) 777-4959 Weekdays, 9am to 4pm CST, year round advice for bread bakers.

Nestle Toll House Baking Information Line
(800) 637-8537 Year-round baking help, plus recipes, from 10am to 6pm.

Ocean Spray
(800) 662-3263. Anything and everything you could want to know about cranberries.  Staffed year-round, weekdays (open Thanksgiving Day; but not Christmas Day, New Year's Day and other major holidays) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., EST.

King Arthur Flour
800 827 6836. Staffed year round. Need help with a substitution or pan size? Trying to work your way through a new recipe? Can’t get your bread to rise? We have professionals standing by on our Baking Hotline to offer FREE information and advice for home bakers. Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00am to 9:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST)

NY Times Thanksgiving Hotline:

The McCormick Look book:   

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline:
If you have questions about food safety, including storage, handling and preparation of the Thanksgiving turkey, call the USDA hotline weekdays from 9 AM to 3 PM CST. TDD line: 1-800-256-7072
Online help for most frequently asked questions. They have also set up a "panic button" page for the food safety questions most likely to be asked. And "Ask Karen" is their 24/7 virtual representative with prepared answers
Sara Lee Pie Hotline                                                                                                                     1-888-914-1247, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST, Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST

Serious Eats                                                                                                           Enter your question into the form and Serious Eats' managing culinary director Kenji Lopez-Alt will publish an answer.

Food52                                                                                           Online hotline year-round with real-time answers from employees and community members. During the holidays, there is always someone from Food52 answering questions.

Libby Consumer Hot Line                                                                                                            1-800-854-0374  Stressed about your pumpkin pie? Get tips and advice, plus recipes using canned pumpkin. The line is open Monday - Friday from 8 AM - 8 PM EST, all year round.

Hershey's Consumer Hot Line                                                                                                    1-800-468-1714  Let the folks at Hersheys walk you through every chocolate question you've ever had. Ask for recipes too! This line is open Monday - Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM EST, all year round.

I hope you find these items useful.

Until next time:
Bon Appetit Y'all
Chef Leslie Bartosh

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