Thawing a Turkey
Knowing how to cook a turkey begins with thawing it properly.
Never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature. Leave it in the original plastic package and follow one of the following methods to thaw your turkey:
- Place turkey on a tray in the refrigerator, allowing 5 hours per pound defrosting time.
After cooking, keep the turkey hot, above 140ºF or refrigerate below 40ºF. Do not leave turkey at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Never stuff turkey the day or night before.
- Even if the stuffing reaches a safe internal temperature, the bacteria have had plenty of time to produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat and can make you sick.
- Do not cook turkey in a brown paper bag unless it is one that has been approved for food use. The chemicals used in manufacturing these bags could leach into the turkey and cause health problems.
Turducken can be perfectly safe, but only if it is prepared quickly and the ingredients that aren’t being immediately used are refrigerated. Do not prepare this recipe in advance. Also do not bake the turducken at temperatures below 325 degrees F; again, overnight and long slow cooking is dangerous. And be sure that the very interior is cooked to 165 degrees F (some sources say 180 degrees F).
- Roast turkey for about 20 minutes per pound, until the meat thermometer reads 170ºF for an unstuffed turkey or 180ºF for a stuffed turkey.
- Remove turkey when cooking is completed and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve it to allow the juices to settle.
- Turkey Roasted Overnight
Lots of us have recipes from our mothers and grandmothers that call for roasting the turkey overnight at a temperature ranging from 200 to 250 degrees F. This is unsafe. The lowest recommended oven temperature for roasting a turkey is 325 degrees F. Once again, the long slow cooking is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. And if the turkey is stuffed the danger is even greater.
|Approximate Roasting Times for Stuffed Turkey|
|6 to 8 pounds||3 to 3-1/2 hours|
|8 to 12 pounds||3-1/2 to 4-1/2 hours|
|12 to 16 pounds||4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours|
|16 to 20 pounds||5-1/2 to 6 hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||6 to 6-1/2 hours|
|Approximate Roasting Times for Unstuffed Turkey|
|6 to 8 pounds||2-1/2 to 3 hours|
|8 to 12 pounds||3 to 4 hours|
|12 to 16 pounds||4 to 5 hours|
|16 to 20 pounds||5 to 5-1/2 hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||5-1/2 to 6 hours|
Happy & Safe Cooking