Turkey tidbits

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Before You Roast Turkey: In general, a 12-to-14-pound range is preferable, though it can sometimes be difficult to find birds that small. An unstuffed turkey in that weight range cooks in a reasonable amount of time (2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature at which you choose to roast it). It also stays moist and tender. A table of turkey roasting times is available online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Lets_Talk_Turkey/index.asp http://. Conversely, a larger turkey takes more time to cook, and the breast meat can become dry before the dark meat is done.

If You Have a Frozen Bird: Turkey should be kept properly chilled while thawing. Do not defrost a frozen turkey on the counter. Instead, place it on a tray in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. Allow 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey.

If You Have a Fresh/Locally Raised Bird: Pound for pound, naturally raised birds take less time to roast than frozen and thawed birds. In heritage turkeys, you may find a more even ratio of white to dark meat. Most of the time, fresh birds from local farms will not contain a bag of giblets.

Look Inside: Turkeys have two cavities, one at the neck and one at the breast. The turkey parts -- neck, giblets, heart and liver -- are usually contained in small bags within those cavities. Be sure to remove them before roasting. You can add the neck, giblets and heart to the stock, but not the liver (the darkest-colored item); it will make the stock bitter.

No Rinsing? To guard against cross-contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture no longer recommends rinsing whole turkeys in the sink, because the process may splash water and spread bacteria.

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