Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's Talk Turkey!

Many people are afraid to make the Thanksgiving turkey.  Don't be it is really just a big chicken.  Most of us have cooked chicken many times so we have had plenty of practice.

Choose a pound per person or a pound and half if you like to send everyone home with leftovers.  I love Thanksgiving leftovers.  I make one turkey and a separate turkey breast.  Although I prefer dark meat my guests seem to prefer white meat.

Fresh or Frozen
Fresh-This is the one time of year you can get fresh turkey pretty easily.  There are a few advantages to buying fresh.  The texture of the meat is better and it will be juicier.  When meat is frozen the water molecules or juices expand.  They contract when the bird is thawed. This causes a slight texture change to the meat. Another advantage is no waiting for the bird to thaw and trying to guess how many days you will need to thaw it.

Frozen-Frozen turkey is always available and does not need to be pre-ordered.  Most grocery stores offer huge discounts on frozen turkeys to draw you into their store to buy all your holiday fixins.

Refrigerator Thawing-Allow one full day for every 4 pounds of turkey.  A 16 pound turkey needs 4 days of refrigeration to thaw properly.  This is the preferred method for thawing any food.

Cold Water Thawing-This method takes 30 minutes per pound and is messy.  Place a securely wrapped turkey in sink over the drain.  Turn on COLD water and let it run over the turkey until it is thawed.  It is easy to see why the other method is better.  But as we all know sometimes we need a back up plan.

Storing and Sanitation-Any raw poultry should be on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator or freezer with a pan underneath.  This ensure that no juices will drip into other food; possibly food that won't be cooked.

Wash all tools and equipment with hot soapy water and air dry.
Wash hands, arms and finger nails with hot soapy water before preparing anything else. 
I like to wear gloves when working with raw meat.

Cooking Temperature and Resting-USE A THEMOMETOR! If you don't have one buy one.  Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees.  Place the probe of the thermometer between the leg and the thigh or the thickest part of the meat.  If it is the proper temperature remove from the oven and let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.  Resting allows the meat (muscle) to relax and helps keep the juices in the meat.

Remember...Take it One Prep at a Time,
Chef Jackie

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