Turkey Daze

Turkey Dinner, Wild Rice Dressing, Sausage Dressing
If you are going to have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner at your house, you're probably already thinking about it.  Here are a few ideas from our kitchens to help with your planning.  
Don’t turn down those “What can I bring?” offers.  Folks like to help and it makes your day easier too.  If you don’t have help, think about make-aheads, or purchase some of your menu items.
Plan ahead to buy and thaw your frozen turkey. 
 Refrigerator Thawing 
When thawing a turkey in the refrigerator:
Plan ahead: allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 °F or below.
Thawing in container
Place the turkey in a container to prevent the juices from dripping on other foods.
Refrigerator Thawing Times
Whole turkey:
 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
A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days before cooking. Foods thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking but there may be some loss of quality. 
What size pan for your turkey?
Roast it on a rack – either a metal one or a rack of vegetables like whole carrots and celery in an open pan.  If you use a foil pan, double it for extra strength with a heavy turkey.  I often use the enamel broiler pan and rack that comes with most ovens; it is large and shallow, allowing even browning.
Minimum Pan Size
Up to 12 pounds
14” x 10” x 2 ¾”
Up to 16 pounds
15 ¾” x 12” x 3”
Up to 20 pounds
16” x 13” x 3” high
Oven probe and instant read thermometers
A meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer will help you have a moist, perfectly-done turkey.  Those Pop-ups in the bird aren’t really accurate.  The breast should register 165° in the thickest part, away from the bone.  If you use an instant-read thermometer, start checking 30 minutes to 1 hour ahead of time; if your turkey is browning too fast, tent with foil.
When your turkey is done, let it rest, tented with foil, about 30 minutes.  The juices will be absorbed back into the meat, making it moist and easy to carve.  Below are some cooking time guidelines from the USDA.
4 to 6 lb breast.....1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs
6 to 8 lb breast...2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hrs
8 to 12 lbs................2 3/4 to 3 hrs
12 to 14 lbs..............3 to 3 3/4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs........3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs
20 to 24 lbs..............4 1/2 to 5 hrs
8 to 12 lbs...............3 to 3 1/2 hrs
12 to 14 lbs..............3 1/2 to 4 hrs
14 to 18 lbs..............4 to 4 1/4 hrs
18 to 20 lbs........4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hrs
20 to 24 lbs........4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hrs

I find that it helps to jot down a list of the dishes I plan to serve, so I don’t forget to put something on the table in the last-minute rush.  Helpers in the kitchen can use your list too.

Turkey stock
Use up your Thanksgiving leftovers. 
  • Add your turkey to paninis, casseroles, soups.
  • Make a shepherd’s pie with turkey, vegetables and gravy and top with mashed potatoes.  Bake until browned on top and bubbly.
  • Add turkey chunks to Cobb and other main dish salads.
  • Add to bean chili.
  • Shape mashed potatoes into patties and brown on both sides.  Serve with eggs for breakfast.
  • Cook your  turkey carcass for calcium-rich broth; freeze or can it.
  • Freeze or can your leftover turkey meat.
Our Photo Recipes - 
Wild Rice and Mushrooms
Turkey Breast with Sausage Stuffing
Turkey Stock
Can your turkey - 
Home canned turkey
Home canned turkey or chicken stock
Home Canned Chicken or Turkey a la King

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