Society

Countdown to Thanksgiving dinner

By CHERYL WALKER Milam County AgriLife Extension Agent

Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner and that usually means it is time to cook turkey. If you are not a seasoned turkey cooker, you probably have a few questions about preparing the holiday meal.

First, you may wonder how much turkey you need for the meal. Here is a guide to help plan your turkey needs.

• if cooking a whole turkey, buy 1 pound per person

• if cooking boneless breast of turkey, buy a half pound per person

• if cooking breast of turkey, buy 3/4 pound per person

Next, do you want a frozen or fresh turkey. If you select fresh turkey, you can only store it for 1-2 days prior to cooking. The frozen turkey can be purchased any time as long as you have adequate storage. Do not buy a prestuffed fresh turkey.

If you select the frozen turkey, plan ahead for thawing time in the refrigerator. Make sure you place your frozen turkey on a pan so that the moisture from the turkey cannot contaminate other foods in the refrigerator. Place the turkey on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and keep it wrapped. Remember that you can only keep a thawed turkey 1-2 days in the refrigerator prior to cooking. Here is the estimated thawing time in the refrigerator.

• 4 to 12 pounds of turkey takes 1 to 3 days to thaw

• 12 to 16 pounds of turkey takes 3 to 4 days to thaw

• 16 to 20 pounds of turkey takes 4 to 5 days to thaw

• 20 to 24 pounds of turkey takes 5 to 6 days to thaw

Plan ahead and make sure you have the equipment to hold your turkey during cooking. Check out your seasoning recipe and make sure you have the ingredients you need. To reduce the risk of making someone sick, cook your dressing or stuffing in a casserole dish. Stuffing cooked in the turkey needs special care to create a safe dinner. It is not recommended.

When you are roasting your turkey in the oven, have your oven temperature at 325 degrees.

The time listed are approximate times, so you need to check the internal temperature of the turkey w ith a thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast and thigh. The temperature should be 165 degrees. After your turkey has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the oven and let is stand for 20 minutes covered prior to cutting.

Here is the approximate cooking times for unstuffed turkey:

• 8 to 12 pounds of turkey cooks 2 3/4 to 3 hours

• 12 to 14 pounds of turkey cooks 3 to 3 3/4 hours

• 14 to 18 pounds of turkey cooks 3 3/4 - 4 1/4 hours

• 18 to 20 pounds of turkey cooks 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours

• 20 to 24 pounds of turkey cooks 4 1/2 1/2 to 5 hours

If you have leftovers, make sure you care for them properly so they will be safe to eat. First, cut the turkey into small pieces. Refrigerate the stuffing/dressing separate from the turkey.

Leftovers need to be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. Leftover turkey and dressing/ stuffing can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days. After that you need to freeze the leftovers for later use. If you reheat leftovers, make sure you thoroughly reheat to 165 degrees (hot and steaming).

Enjoy your holiday meals by playing it safe with your turkey and other food items.

Pecan Bake Show

If you grow your own pecans or just like to bake with pecans, you can enter the Milam County Pecan Bake Show on Nov. 24 at the Milam Extension Office, 100 E. 1st Street in Cameron.

Rules were pr inted in last week's Reporter. Call 254-697- 7045 for more information.

Pecan Show entries

Pecan growers need to select their best pecans and enter the sample by 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23 at the Extension Office in Cameron. You don't need to be a big pecan producer to enter the show. If you have one pecan tree, you can enter.

If you need more information on the Pecan Bake Show or Pecan Show call 254-697-7045.

ce-walker@tamu.edu


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2009-11-19 digital edition



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