Preparing a Thanksgiving turkey can prove tricky for even the most experienced cooks. How big of a bird to select, how to thaw it in time and how to avoid undercooking, overcooking or — even worse — food poisoning, are among the challenges faced by holiday chefs. Here are some tips from Mayo Clinic to help avoid turkey-related mishaps:
Turkey selection: At least 1 pound per person is the rough rule of thumb. That might sound like a lot, but much of that weight comes from bone and fat that you will trim away. If you enjoy leftovers, do the math for the number of people you will serve, then choose a turkey at least a few pounds heavier.
Defrosting: Keep your turkey frozen until it is ready to thaw. To thaw it in the refrigerator, leave it in its original wrapper, place it on a tray and allow at least a full day for every 4 pounds. For example, a 12-pound turkey, enough for about eight people plus leftovers, will take three or four days to thaw. You can also thaw the turkey in its wrapper submerged in cold water in a clean sink; allow a half-hour per pound and change the water every 30 minutes.