Creative cooking is not my forté. I married a chef. Calculated? Perhaps. While I spent most of my life living a highly creative life (I’ve been an actress, a dancer and a writer), my creative cooking attempts have been more mess than masterpiece. Thankfully, there are guidelines, or directions that make cooking a turkey and everything that goes with it a piece of cake (BTW – cake I can make – baking is more of a science than an art).
For the past thirty-some years I have been hosting our family’s Thanksgiving Day dinner. At first, I had the help of my mother-in-law, whose finesse in the kitchen is amazing. Hubby would spend the day watching his hometown high school team defeat the next town’s team…so much for marrying a chef. Once we moved away from the extended family I was on my own and EXPECTED TO SHINE, since Thanksgiving is my husband and son’s favorite holiday.
The reality is that by buying a Butterball Turkey and following the directions that come with it, I can create a golden turkey that’s moist in the center. I know because I’ve done it…again and again and again. By remembering the 3 T’s of turkey cooking (thawing, temperature and two-hour rule), I never have to worry about my turkey being ready on time and perfectly cooked.
I usually buy a frozen Butterball, because I can pick it up on sale and leave it in the freezer until I need it. Thawing it in the refrigerator is a snap. Simply remember that for every four pounds of turkey, you need to allow at least one day of thawing in the refrigerator.
Did you forget? No problem, you can always cold water thaw in the kitchen sink – just leave your Butterball unopened wrapper breast down in cold water (don’t use warm water as it breeds bacteria). If you change the water every ½ hour your turkey should thaw at 30 min. per pound (6 hours for a 12 lb. turkey), then place in the refrigerator at 45 degrees or less until you’re ready to pop it in the oven.
Do you want your Butterball cooked PERFECTLY? It’s all about the temperature. By using an easy to read meat safe thermometer, you can pop it into the thigh or stuffing and be sure that it’s going to be moist and delicious. If you use an instant read thermometer like I do, you simply place it just below the thigh bone. When it reaches 180° F, it’s done. Stuffed turkey temperature should be read in the stuffing and taken out when the temperature in the center of the stuffing reaches 165° F. A 10 – 18 lb. Butterball will take between 3 ¾ – 4 hours at 325° F in an open pan. Cooking a breast? Simply place the thermometer in the meatiest part and cook to 170° F. If you’d like to see EXACTLY where to place the thermometer to get the perfect reading, watch the how-to videos on www.Butterball.com.
One of the things that people forget is that turkey can only stay out for two hours. If your bird is cooked and the guests won’t arrive for a while, simply carve and put it back into the fridge. Be sure to place the stuffing and carved turkey into separate containers. Love the leftovers? Make sure to enjoy them within in 2 days or freeze.
I roast my turkey, using the open pan method. You’ll find the recipe on the booklet that comes packed with your Butterball, or you can watch the video at http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-tos/how-tos/roast/video.
They’ll never know you’re not a master chef if you follow the directions. I know, I’ve had my family fooled for YEARS.