Turkey time: Tips for preparing your Thanksgiving dinner

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The most anticipated dish of Thanksgiving dinner is up for debate, but to some, the turkey just can’t be beat.

Before we know it, Thanksgiving Day will be here. Planning ahead is key before the holidays, so now is a good time to decide how you’re going to prepare your turkey.

Defrosting

Turkeys can be bought fresh or frozen. Fresh turkeys should be bought a day or two before you plan to cook them. Frozen turkeys can remain frozen until it’s time to thaw them.

Your best bet is to thaw your turkey in your refrigerator, not at room temperature, according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The size of your Thanksgiving bird determines the amount of time it’ll take to thaw. The USDA recommends the following refrigerator thaw times for turkeys:

  • 4 to 12 pounds: 1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds: 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds: 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 5 to 6 days

If you thaw your turkey in the fridge, you can keep it in the fridge for a day or two.

You can thaw your turkey in cold water or in the microwave. Allow 30 minutes per pound for cold water thawing. As for microwave thawing, check your microwave’s instruction manual for directions for thawing turkey. However, the turkey must be thawed immediately if you thaw it in cold water or in the microwave.

Roasted, deep-fried or grilled?

Roasting a turkey may be the traditional method of preparing your family’s main dish, but there are many other options, too.

Roasting a turkey with kosher salt is one way to follow the traditional cooking method. You’ll have a moist, juicy turkey to top with cranberry relish. Or maybe a turkey with cherry stuffing or garlic rosemary turkey would better suit your taste buds.

For more options, the USDA lists possible routes to the table for your Thanksgiving turkey, like cooking on a gas grill and cooking in a deep fryer.

For preparation purposes, keep in mind that a stuffed turkey takes longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. For information about cooking times, OSU Extension-Guernsey County provides a table for turkey cooking times.

Use a meat thermometer to check your turkey’s internal temperature. The magic number for poultry is a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

After your turkey has finished cooking, wait about 20 minutes before you carve it. Letting it sits allows the juices to settle, and carving will be easier.

How are you going to prepare your turkey for Thanksgiving this year?

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