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Planning for Thanksgiving

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Now is the time to take a few moments to plan your Thanksgiving dinner.  Consider the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, the Turkey. How big a turkey do you need to purchase?  How far ahead do you thaw it and how? Read on for helpful tips about buying, thawing and roasting a turkey.

Buying a Turkey 

Frozen: Allow 1 lb. per person. Buy any time, but keep frozen until ready to thaw. 

Frozen Pre-Stuffed: Allow 1 1/4 lbs. per person. Buy any time. Keep frozen until ready to cook. DO NOT THAW. 

Fresh: Allow 1 lb. per person. Buy 1-2 days before cooking. DO NOT BUY PRE-STUFFED.

The Best Way to Safely Thaw a Turkey

Thawing Time in the Refrigerator (41 degrees F) - Approximately 24 hrs. per 5 lb.  (Whole Turkey)

8  to 12 lb.............1 to 2 days
12 to 16 lb.............2 to 3 days
16 to 20 lb.............3 to 4 days
20 to 24 lb.............4 to 5 days

Thawing Time in Cold Water - Approximately 30 min. per lb. (Whole Turkey)

8  to 12 lb.............4 to 6 hours
12 to 16 lb............6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 lb............8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 lb............10 to 12 hours (Change water every 30 minutes)

After thawing, remove neck and giblets from both neck and body cavities, wash turkey inside and out with cold water and drain well.  Thawed turkey may remain in refrigerator 1 - 2 days.

Roasting a Turkey

Timetable for fresh or thawed turkey at 325 degrees F.  (These times are approximate and should always be used in conjunction with a properly placed thermometer.  Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.)

Unstuffed                                                       Stuffed
8  to 12 lb.........2 3/4 to 3 hours                     8  to 12 lb.........3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 lb.........3 to 3 3/4 hours                    12 to 14 lb.........3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 lb.........3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours              14 to 18 lb.........4 to 4 1/2 hours
18 to 20 lb.........4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours              18 to 20 lb.........4 1/2 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 lb.........4 1/2 to 5 hours                    20 to 24 lb.........4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours  

Roasting Instructions

Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees F. Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. For uniform results, it is recommended to cook stuffing outside the bird. If stuffed, stuff loosely.

For safety and doneness, the internal temperature, as registered on a meat thermometer, must reach a minimum of 180 degrees F in the thigh before removing from the oven. The center of the stuffing should reach 165 degrees F after stand time. Juices should be clear. Let the breast stand 20 minutes before removing stuffing and carving.

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