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What to know when cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Published 5:36pm Saturday, November 9, 2013

HaugenI remember the first year I prepared Thanksgiving dinner a number of years ago.

I wanted to impress my guests but also be confident in what I was cooking. The most intimidating food to me at the time?  The turkey.

Like many customers, I had a few questions. How long does it take to defrost a turkey? What if my turkey isn’t all the way thawed prior to cooking? What about roasting time? Do I stuff the turkey with stuffing? Whether you’re a veteran turkey roaster or a first-timer, it’s important to always follow food safety guidelines.

Here are a few tips to ensure a happy Thanksgiving for everyone this year.

1. Defrosting your turkey — Leave the turkey in its original wrapping and place it on a tray in your refrigerator.  You should allow five hours per pound defrosting time.

2. Cooking a frozen turkey without defrosting — If you don’t defrost your bird, you can cook it in the oven, but don’t grill, smoke, microwave or deep-fry a frozen turkey.  Cooking time takes longer than when thawed, but follow the USDA guidelines and take the recommended cooking time for a thawed turkey and add 50 percent of that time to the original time. For example, a turkey that should take about five hours to roast if already thawed will take about seven hours and 30 minutes to roast if frozen. Remove the giblet packages during the cooking time by carefully removing with tongs.

3. Roasting time for unstuffed turkeys*

•10- to 18-pound turkey: 3 to 3-1/2 hours

•18- to 22-pound turkey:  3-1/2 to 4 hours

• 22- to 24-pound turkey:  4 to 4-1/2 hours

•24- to 30-pound turkey:  4-1/2 to 5 hours

*For optimum safety, the USDA does not recommend stuffing a turkey.  For more even cooking, it is recommended to cook the stuffing separately from the turkey.  Use a food thermometer to assure the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

4. Check the temperature — To make sure the turkey is fully cooked, check the temperature in three places: the breast, the outer thigh and the inside thigh.  In every case, the meat should be at least 165 degrees. If any place is under that temperature, put the turkey back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Shield the breast meat with foil if needed to keep it from overcooking.

5. Leftovers — Once you’ve sat down at the table, don’t forget about the turkey back on the counter. The leftover meat needs to be refrigerated within two hours of cooking.

Smoked turkey whole-grain slider

Serves 4

All you need

•4 Hy-Vee Bakery Fresh 100% whole-grain cocktail buns

•¼ cup apple butter, divided

•¼ pound Di Lusso deli sliced smoked turkey or leftover turkey, divided

•2 (1 oz each) slices Havarti cheese, halved and divided

•1 medium apple, such as Granny Smith or Braeburn, cored and thinly sliced

•4 fresh lettuce leaves

 All you do

1. Place buns on cutting board and split open.  Spread apple butter evenly on top side of each bun.

2. On the bottom bun half without apple butter, place 1 oz. turkey, a half slice of Havarti cheese, one-fourth the apple slices and a lettuce leaf. Repeat for other 3 bun halves.

3. Top each prepared bun bottom with the top half, apple-butter-side down.

Nutrition facts per serving: 200 calories, 7 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 530 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 11 g protein.  40% vitamin A, 6% vitamin C, 10% calcium, 15% iron.

 Source: Adapted from Tri-Foods International  

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