Benton Evening News - Benton, IL
  • How to prepare Thanksgiving dinner

  • Here's a last-minute reference guide for getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table.

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  • If you’ve got a turkey in the fridge for Thursday’s Thanksgiving feast, congratulations. You’ve taken the first step toward making a delicious holiday dinner. But there’s a lot more to do, so we’ve compiled a quick reference guide to help get you through the big day.
    In case you still have questions, we’ve included phone numbers for turkey-day hotlines and Web addresses for how-to videos.
    Faced with a holiday cooking conundrum? There’s undoubtedly an app for that.
    But if you’re a little more old school, there still are numerous hotlines you can call when a kitchen crisis hits.
    Or do damage control before it reaches that stage. Most companies offer tons of tips, advice and how-to videos on their websites and via Facebook and Twitter.
    --Crisco Pie Hotline: (877) 367-7438
    --Butterball Turkey Talk-Line: (800) BUTTERBALL, www.butterball.com or via email at talkline@butterball.com
    --Empire Kosher poultry customer hot line: (717) 436-7055 or www.empirekosher.com
    --Fleischmann’s Yeast Baker’s Help Line: (800) 777-4959 or www.breadworld.com/default.aspx
    --Foster Farms Turkey Helpline: (800) 255-7227 or www.fosterfarms.com/cooking/index.asp
    --King Arthur Flour Co.’s Bakers Hotline: (802) 649-3717 or e-mail questions to bakers@kingarthurflour.com
    --Nestle Toll House Baking Information: www.verybestbaking.com/Resources.aspx
    --Ocean Spray consumer help line: (800) 662-3263 or www.oceanspray.com
    --Perdue consumer help line: (800) 473-7383 or www.perdue.com/tips_from_the_kitchen
    --Reynolds Turkey Tips Hotline: (800) 745-4000 or www.turkeysuccess.com
    --U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline: (888) 674-6854 or www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/index.asp
    Learn about preparing Thanksgiving dinner from videos issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service:
    --Cooking a turkey: www.youtube.com/watch?v=suf9DkCE8zo
    --Stuffing a turkey: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBXuTnv0gAQ
    --Thawing a turkey: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCostombqR4
    Page 2 of 4 - --Cooking clean: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCostombqR4
    --Avoiding cross-contamination: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTERWZmGu8s
    --Cooking at the proper temperature: www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5LgHDX-0LA
    --Chilling foods correctly: www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6izvCovZ4Q
    How much turkey?
    For turkeys under 16 pounds, estimate 1 pound per serving (this accounts for bone weight). For larger birds, a bit less is fine because they have a higher meat-to-bone ratio. But if your goal is to have ample leftovers, aim for 1 ½ pounds per person, whatever the turkey’s size.
    How to roast a turkey
    Remove giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.
    Set oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees.
    Place turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck wing tips under the shoulders of the bird for more even cooking.
    Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
    For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
    Place a lid or a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1 ½ hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent overbrowning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.
    A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.
    Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily.
    Timetables for turkey roasting
    (325-degree oven temperature)
    4 to 8 pounds (breast): 1½ to 3¼ hours
    8 to 12 pounds: 2¾ to 3 hours
    12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3¾ hours
    14 to 18 pounds: 3¾ to 4¼ hours
    18 to 20 pounds: 4¼ to 4½ hours
    20 to 24 pounds: 4½ to 5 hours
    6 to 8 pounds (breast): 2½ to 3½ hours
    Page 3 of 4 - 8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3½ hours
    12 to 14 pounds: 3½ to 4 hours
    14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4¼ hours
    18 to 20 pounds: 4¼ to 4¾ hours
    20 to 24 pounds: 4¾ to 5¼ hours
    It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time. Remove carefully with tongs or a fork.
    Storing leftovers
    --Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees.
    --Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
    --Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days.
    --If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months for best quality.
    Sara’s Make-Ahead Gravy
    From Sara Moulton
    8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    4 cups chicken or turkey broth, heated
    ½ cup dry red or white wine
    Reserved liquid from turkey roasting drippings
    Reserved liquid from turkey resting platter
    In medium saucepan over moderate low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 5 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking to boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Let gravy cool, transfer to a bowl and cover and chill overnight.
    Note: The gravy will be thick but you’ll be adding liquid (wine and drippings) and thinning it before serving. If you’re adjusting the yield, use 1 cup broth, 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour for 1 cup of gravy.
    Makes 8 servings.
    Vanilla-Brined Thanksgiving Turkey
    From Spice Islands
    1 (16-to-20-pound) turkey, giblets removed, cleaned and patted dry
    Vanilla Brine:
    ¾ cup kosher salt
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    ¼ cup hickory-smoked or table salt
    2 tablespoons ground white pepper
    1 tablespoon ground cardamom
    2 cinnamon sticks
    2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
    ½ gallon vegetable stock
    1/3 cup pure vanilla extract
    ½ gallon heavily iced water
    Vanilla Bourbon Butter:
    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons sweet bourbon
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 green apple, halved
    1 yellow onion, halved
    ½ bunch thyme
    Page 4 of 4 - ½ bunch rosemary
    1 cinnamon stick
    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the first 8 ingredients of the brine in a large pot and simmer until the spices dissolve. Allow to cool completely.
    Pour the cooled stock mixture into a large storage container and stir in the vanilla and ice water.
    Completely submerge the turkey into the liquid, breast side down, and brine for 10 to 16 hours, stored in a cool, dry place.
    While the turkey is in the brine, make the vanilla bourbon Butter: Place the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside.
    When ready, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the aromatics and rub the skin, both under and over, with the vanilla bourbon butter. 8. Season the turkey with salt and pepper.
    Tie the legs together tightly, tuck the wings under the back, and transfer the bird to a roasting pan. Place the turkey into the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the skin to brown.
    Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with foil to prevent burning. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast the turkey for 2 ½ to 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
    Remove the foil from the breast 30 minutes before the turkey is ready to come out of the oven. Continue to roast until an instant read thermometer reads 161 degrees (the temperature should rise to 165 degrees after it comes out of the oven).
    Remove turkey from the oven, loosely cover with foil and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
    Makes 16 to 20 servings.

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