Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OH NO! The turkey is still frozen!

I answered the phone yesterday to a question from a friend...Where's your turkey? She was wondering if I'd remembered to take it out of the freezer to defrost. Seems she'd just remembered that morning and it was a 28lb hunk of wonder so didn't know if it would be defrosted. It was then that I told her that I didn't have to worry about the turkey since my mom was cooking it. I also let her in on a little secret of mine...I very rarely defrost my turkeys anymore. Having only one refrigerator I don't really have the room to do it safely. What I do is cook the turkey right from the freezer. And the great thing about it...the turkey comes out juicy!

There were then lots of questions about it staying in the danger zone too long and introducing salmonella and whatnot to it. The same ones I had when I first wondered if it would work. Then I read this article over at and decided to give it a shot. Now for me, it's the only way to go.

In a nutshell the above article says that it's safe to cook it this way. It's actually even safer since there's no juices to cross contaminate surfaces or other foods. The legs defrost first allowing them to cook longer and get to temperature. The breast being denser defrosts last and cooks less, allowing it to stay moist.

While the article says a 15lb turkey takes 5 to 5.5 hours. What do you do for a larger bird, like my friend's? I've used this method to cook a 21lb'er before and it took about 7hrs like the article stated. I've also read other articles that say to increase your time by half the thawed roasting time recommendation. Using this time chart I'd agree if you used the stuffed turkey time guideline. The important thing is to use a reliable meat thermometer and check everything....Legs and thighs should be 175 to 185, breast should be 160 to 170 and stuffing inside the bird should be 165.

Yes! You can still cook your stuffing inside the turkey with this method. The key is to stuff the bird (and remove the giblets packet and neck) about 2/3 through the cooking time. Just be sure to protect your hands since the turkey and cavity will be hot. Oh and a note from me, you definitely want to tent the bird in foil, otherwise the top layer of the breast will get too dry. Remove the foil an hour or so before the end of roasting time so the skin can brown up.

So don't panic if you forgot to defrost the turkey, you won't have to order pizza. Just get up a little earlier on Thanksgiving and take a little longer to cook your frozen bird. And enjoy!

I also wanted to remind everyone that Mirz wrote a great article last Thanksgiving which included her menu and timetable that helps her organize her time in the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Planning the Perfect Turkey for Thanksgiving

For our family Thanksgiving is all about the TURKEY. I've been cooking at least one whole turkey every year for the last 25 years or more, so it seems simple. But every year I hear people fretting about the fact they have to make THE turkey this year.

Here are a few tips that I've picked up over the years.

If you're buying a frozen turkey, be sure to give yourself enough time for it to defrost (preferably in the refrigerator) 14 lb turkey is going to take 4 days to defrost in the fridge

Invest in an electric roaster pan, this has saved my sanity on more than one holiday. The turkey can cook all day while you cook everything else in the oven.

Use online tools like to figure out how much turkey you need, how long it will take to defrost and how long it needs to cook.

Watch for grocery specials...this year I'm getting a FREE 14 lb frozen ButterBall turkey by using my customer rewards card at a local grocery store....I had to spend a minimum of $300 on groceries in a 45 day window, but since I needed to spend at least that much on groceries this month it was a GREAT deal. ButterBall currently has a $2 off printable coupon on their website that is good until the end of December.