NDSU Extension - Morton County


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November 18, 2019 Turkey Time!

Vanessa Hoines, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness


Dates to Remember:

  • November 25 – West 4-H Volunteer Training-Killdeer
  • December 3 - BSC Ag Marketing Club, Kluis Commodities Advisory, BSC Career Academy
  • December 10 - BSC Ag Marketing Club, Progressive Ag, BSC Career Academy


Turkey Time!

Turkey anyone? Who can resist the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, growing ever more golden brown almost by the minute, its gravy-making juices crackling and sizzling in the bottom of the roaster pan.  Let’s talk about some ways to make your Thanksgiving turkey both succulent and safe.

Thawing the turkey:

  • Don’t thaw poultry – or any frozen food – at room temperature. You can thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator for up to four days. Place your thawing turkey on a tray in the refrigerator to prevent its juices from dripping on other foods. Or thaw it in cold water, and change the water at least every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing in cold water.

Cooking the turkey:

• It’s safest to cook your dressing in a separate container and not inside the bird. In place of dressing in the bird, you can stuff the cavity with onions, apples or a combination of both. If you choose to stuff your turkey the traditional way, prepare your dressing and stuff your bird loosely right before you cook it. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need about ¾ cup of dressing per pound of turkey.

• Cook breast up at an oven temperature of 325 F or hotter.

• Place foil over the breast to prevent overcooking, and remove it near the end of cooking to complete browning.

• Add a dab of butter or oil, if desired, to prevent the skin from drying and to provide a golden color. Season to your liking.

• When the skin begins to turn golden brown, the turkey is about two-thirds done.

• Measure the temperature by inserting the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh muscle. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bone. The temperature of the thigh muscle should reach 165 F and the juices should run clear, not pink. The stuffing temperature should reach 165 F.

• Let turkey stand for about 15 minutes for easier carving. Serve hot and finish serving within 2 hours.

Taking care of leftovers:

• Remove stuffing and debone turkey before chilling. Store in shallow containers.

• Refrigerate immediately after meal and within 2 hours of cooking.

• Serve leftover turkey within four days. Serve leftover stuffing and gravy within two days, reheating to at least 165 F.

• For best quality, freeze plain cooked turkey at 0 F or below for up to four months.

For more information about nutrition and food safety, contact Morton County NDSU Extension at 667-3340 or visit the Extension website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food


Other Sources 1) Butterball Turkey at www.butterball.com

2) USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service at www.fsis.usda.gov

3) USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 800-535-4555.


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