Every Thanksgiving meal needs a turkey, but that doesn’t mean the turkey needs to be purchased the day before the meal. Purchasing a frozen turkey can be tricky, thought. How does the host know what size to get, and should the turkey be thawed when the time comes to cook it?
Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner: Turkey Size
To begin, choose a turkey that is the appropriate size using this general rule of thumb: plan 1.5 pounds of turkey for each adult and half a pound of turkey for each child. For example, if the host has six adults and four children attending his or her dinner, the host should purchase an 11-pound turkey.
If you don’t want leftovers or believe your guests will be light eaters, scale the size back a bit to one pound per adult. Using the above example, the host would need an 8-pound turkey.
Thawing Turkey: How to Prepare the Turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner
There are three common ways to thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
Thawing a turkey in the refrigerator is easy, assuming the host has enough room. Simply clear a shelf and set the wrapped turkey on a tray. Allow a full 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey. For example, if the hose has a 10-pound turkey, he or she should put the turkey in the refrigerator two days ahead of when he or she plans to cook it.
Thawing a turkey using cold water is equally simple. Fill a pot or a sink with cold water and place the wrapped turkey inside. Using this method, the host should allow for 30 minutes per pound of turkey. So, if the host has a 10-pound turkey, he or she needs to put it in the water 10 hours ahead of time.
Using the microwave is a bit more complicated, but can be more convenient. To thaw a turkey this way, the host will need to have a fairly large microwave. Using the microwave allows the host to cook the turkey more quickly, but each microwave is different, so the host should check the owner’s manual to determine how much time is needed to thaw the turkey in this manner.
The microwave can be used to thaw the turkey, but should not be used to cook the turkey. If the host uses the microwave to thaw the turkey, it still needs to be cooked fully before it can be eaten.
Thawing a Turkey: Avoid Bacteria Growth
However the host decides to thaw a turkey, he or she should avoid setting it out on the counter as thawing on the counter may attract or breed unhealthy bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Regardless of the thawing method, the turkey needs to be cooked immediately after it is fully thawed.
Once thawed, the host should begin cooking the turkey. The host can choose from several cooking options, including deep-fried, grilled and oven-roasted. However the host decides to cook the turkey, remember that the turkey is the real centerpiece of the table, the meal and Thanksgiving Day itself.