Thawing the Turkey
It’s not every day that we roast a turkey, so if you have some questions, that’s understandable. Let’s start with thawing. According to the USDA Food Safety Education there are three safe ways to thaw a turkey: In the fridge, in water and in the microwave. Never thaw your turkey on the counter.
Thawing in the fridge takes patience and planning ahead. It takes about 24 hours for each 5 pounds for a turkey to thaw in the fridge. That means a 16 to 20 pound turkey will take four to five days. You can also put your bird in a leakproof plastic bag and dunk it in cold tap water in the sink for a quicker thaw. It’s best to change the water every 30 minutes. Your 16 to 20 pound turkey will be thawed in 8 to 10 hours. Lastly, you can thaw your turkey in the microwave. Once you thaw it this way it must be cooked immediately.
“How you prepare your holiday meal is important. Remember to wash your hands, clean your cook surfaces and separates raw meat from other foods,” adds a TMH Dietitian.
Stuffing the Turkey
Do you cook it first then stuff the bird? If so, you earn a safety star, and that goes for those who cook it in a pan as well. Others like to stuff the bird with raw stuffing and bake it that way. That’s okay as long as you take extra precautions. Wait until the very last minute to mix the wet and dry ingredients and once stuffed, cook the turkey immediately. Resist the urge to get the bird ready the night before. Mixing warm, cooked veggies, stock and eggs and filling the bird creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. It can take hours for the stuffing’s temperature to drop below 40 degrees and out of the danger zone for spoiling. Finally, when you do cook the turkey use a thermometer to ensure the stuffing reaches a minimum of 165 degrees—the temperature needed to destroy bacteria.
Roasting the Turkey
Set your oven temperature to no less than 325 degrees. The general rule of thumb for how long to cook a turkey is 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. Here’s how it breaks out: a 12 to 14 pound bird will take 3 to 4 hours, and a 20 to 24 pound bird will take 4.5 to 5 hours. Stuffed birds will take a half hour or so longer. Be sure to use a meat thermometer – place far inside the bird to measure 165 degrees.
Pumpkin Pie and Leftovers
Can you leave that pumpkin pie out on your counter? If it’s store bought (and has preservatives), yes, for a while. If you make it from scratch, no. The USDA says any pie with egg in the filling should not be left out. As for leftovers? Clean up well before two hours to avoid spoiling.