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Turkey trouble? This hotline is a lifeline

By Lisa Crockett

Big feasts can sometimes mean big trouble, especially when it’s a feast that involves cooking foods most people only attempt once a year.  Add in concerns about food safety, and you and your dinner guests might simply be giving thanks for making it through the holiday unscathed rather than focusing on the joy of the season.  Enter Butterball: the Garner, North Carolina turkey giant; it’s the largest turkey producer in the United States.  For the last 35 years, Butterball has been helping home cooks produce a Norman Rockwell-worthy bird at their holiday tables.  

In 1981, six home economists manned a phone bank to talk consumers through the process of thawing, roasting and presenting a turkey.  The hotline lives on, and today Butterball has taken a decidedly modern approach to helping home cooks with online pointers, foreign-language speaking experts on hand to answer questions, and even an app for mobile devices to answer questions on the go.  At the end of the day though, no matter how you get your information, it is all with the aim of producing a fabulous feast.  

Here are some tips from Butterball:

– Thaw a frozen bird in the fridge, allowing one day of thawing time for every four pounds of bird.  

– In determining the size of turkey you will need, figure about a pound and a half of turkey per adult and about a pound per child.

– To check for doneness, always use a meat thermometer.  When a turkey is fully (and safely) cooked, the thermometer will register 180 degrees at the thigh, 170 degrees at the breast and 165 degrees in the stuffing.

– An uncooked turkey can be stored in the freezer for up to two years.

– Remember the four “T’s”: Thaw in the fridge, check the Temperature of a cooked bird to verify doneness, after Two hours leftovers should be stored in the fridge, and eat or freeze leftover turkey within Three days of preparing.

Beyond these simple basics, has instructions on how to do everything from crafting your own “turkey lifter” out of kitchen twine to safely deep frying or smoking a bird.  

If you are still in the dark, pick up the phone and send a text, a tweet or just a good old-fashioned phone call to 1-800-BUTTERBALL to reach the “Turkey Talk Line.”  Don’t be shy; past year’s experts have answered questions ranging from how to cook a 30-year-old frozen bird (answer: do not, just throw it out and get a new one) to how much room to allow in the oven for a bird to expand (answer: none, a roasting turkey does not “grow” as it cooks). 



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