Gearing up to cook that perfect Thanksgiving turkey?
It may surprise you to know that it’s not the seasoning, or the stuffing, or even the roasting that is the most crucial step.
It’s the thawing. Yes, that’s right.
By now everybody has probably already heard about the dangers of irresponsible turkey deep frying, but if you don’t thaw your bird right, you could be giving your dinner guests an early, unwanted holiday gift — a trip to the emergency room.
And what’s even worse than being sick of your family on Thanksgiving?
Being the person who got your entire family sick on Thanksgiving.
You don’t want that, do you?
Here are some do’s and don’ts, courtesy of Butterball and USDA, for proper turkey thawing.
Don’t do this
- Don’t thaw it on the countertop or in open air. The reason, of course, is germs. Or pet hair. Or curious two-year-olds with fingers that like to poke everything. Even if you choose to thaw your bird in cold water it is recommended that you leave it in the wrapper or a plastic bag to avoid leaving it open to the air.
- Don’t wait to cook your turkey after it’s thawed. Once you’ve verified it’s ready to be cooked, cook it. This eliminates the possibility of any bacteria that might have made its way into your turkey getting a chance to grow or spread.
- Don’t rinse it off first. This is a step in many recipes, but it is actually unnecessary. Also splashing water from doing so can contaminate other food prep situations, utensils, countertops, etc.
- Don’t cook a partially thawed turkey. This is actually more conducive to bacteria than if you attempted to cook it from a thoroughly frozen state.
When thawing a turkey, do this
- Do thaw it in a cooler or refrigerator. This is the safest and easiest way. Just get a cooler large enough to hold your turkey, make sure it’s clean and put it in. That’s all. The frozen turkey will provide its own refrigeration while it thaws. Depending on weight this can take three or four days. Check it after two days and adjust as needed. If you don’t have a cooler and space in your refrigerator is not an issue, thawing in the refrigerator is also preferable. But plan ahead: a 25-pound turkey can take more than six days to thaw completely. As a general rule, allow one day of refrigerator thawing for every four pounds of turkey.
- Do use the cold water method. This is generally considered the fastest safe way to a perfectly thawed turkey. Leave it in the wrapper or plastic bag and put it in a bucket (or empty sink, etc) and submerge in cold water, breast side down. Then simply change the water every 30 minutes or so. You’ll need about half an hour thawing time for each pound of turkey using this method.
- Do consider using the microwave. Of course, your bird has to fit inside the microwave, and preferably have room to spin around so it thaws evenly. If your microwave does not have a defrost function, one rule of thumb is six minutes per pound at full power.
- Do make sure your turkey is thoroughly thawed before cooking. You can do this by reaching into the hollow part and making sure there are no ice crystals. Then use a fork to poke the thickest parts of the turkey. If it feels relatively soft, you’re ready to go.
Read more at usatoday.com