NAPERVILLE, Ill. — The Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is more than just a hotline and it’s also a very busy place this time of year. It’s got people answering calls and working the phone lines at the Turkey Talk-Line and also staff whipping up recipes in the taste kitchen. They gave the Chicago Scene a tour and offered some helpful advice and some tips and tricks to help you have the best-tasting Thanksgiving Turkey.
How to decide what size turkey to buy
It’s recommended to buy 1.5 pounds of turkey per guest for generous portions and leftovers. More turkey just means more leftovers. Not a bad thing, right?
Frozen whole turkeys and frozen whole turkey breasts need to be thawed before cooking. For the best results, follow one of these thawing methods:
- Thaw turkey breast side up, in an unopened wrapper on a tray in the fridge (40 degrees F or below).
- Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 lbs. of turkey.
- Keep turkey in original wrapper and place on tray.
- Use turkey within 4 days after thawing.
Cold Water Thawing
- Thaw turkey breast side down, in an unopened wrapper, with enough cold water to cover your turkey completely.
- Change water every 30 minutes and if turkey cannot be completely covered, rotate every 30 minutes to keep the turkey chilled.
- Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per lb of turkey.
Check Your turkey’s temperature with Incredibly easy thermometer placement
- Before cooking, if you have an oven safe leave in thermometer, insert the probe into the thigh. The tip of the thermometer should be placed into the thick part of thigh without touching the bone.
- Remove the turkey when it reaches 180°F. The breast must reach 170°F and if the turkey is stuffed, check the temperature of the center of the stuffing to make sure it’s cooked to 165°F.
- If you don’t have a leave-in thermometer, check the turkey with an accurate instant read thermometer 30-60 minutes before the estimated finish time, then about every 15 minutes thereafter.
Biggest mistakes & what to do instead
- Not allowing enough time to thaw: Allow 1 day for every 4 pounds to thaw in the refrigerator OR 30 minutes per pound in cold water.
- Not having a meat thermometer: Always use a meat thermometer to know when the turkey is done – 165 degrees in the stuffing, 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh.
- Stuffing the turkey in advance: If you are going to stuff the turkey, stuff it right before you put it in the oven.
- Basting the turkey: You do not need to baste the turkey throughout the cooking process. Once the turkey is in the oven, there is no reason to open the door to baste throughout the cooking.
- The turkey doesn’t brown: In order to get that nice golden-brown color, brush the breast of the turkey with vegetable oil right before you put it in the oven.
- Not having a flat rack: If you don’t have a flat rack, you can use an aluminum ‘foil coil’ to elevate the turkey off of the pan or use carrots.
- Not getting the leftovers into the refrigerator: Put away any leftovers into the refrigerator within 2 hours.
- Completely forget to thaw a turkey: Purchase Butterball’s Ready to Roast, which can be put right into the oven from frozen!
Recipe for the Stuffing Waffle Sandwich
Prep time: < 30 minutes
Cook time: < 30 minutes
- 1 (1/2-pound) cooked turkey breast, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 package (16 ounces) turkey-flavored instant stuffing mix
- 1 egg
- 2 large sweet potatoes, mashed (can substitute russet potatoes, if desired)
- 1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
- 1 jar (12 ounces) roasted turkey gravy
- 1 package (6 ounces) spring greens mix
- Special Equipment: foil, nonstick cooking spray, waffle maker
- Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions. Spread cooked stuffing onto baking sheet and allow to cool slightly. Transfer cooled stuffing to large bowl and add egg; mix well. Divide stuffing mixture into two portions.
- Place sheets of foil over two plates; spray with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange stuffing portions on each plate. Press stuffing into compact circle (about the size of waffle maker) to form a stuffing patty.
- Let stand 5 to 10 minutes to firm up slightly. Turn on waffle maker; start reheating sweet potatoes.
- Once waffle maker is hot, spray with cooking spray and flip (or slide off plate with a spatula) stuffing patty onto waffle maker. Close top and press down slightly. Allow waffle to cook until golden brown and toasted.
- Place cooked waffle on cutting board; slice in half. Spread each half with warmed sweet potatoes and top with turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and greens. Top with second half of waffle. Serve immediately.
- Repeat with remaining stuffing portion.
For more information and tips for your turkey prep, click here.
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