Selecting Your Turkey
Choosing between fresh or frozen turkeys is simply a matter of preference – with no significant difference in quality. Store fresh turkey in refrigerator up to the sell-by date on the label. A whole frozen turkey can be stored up to one year in the freezer. Plan for 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person to allow for generous servings and leftovers.
Thawing a Frozen Turkey
To thaw in the refrigerator (preferred method), place turkey in its original wrap on a tray in a pan to catch the moisture; estimate at least one day of thawing for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. After thawing, remove giblet package from the neck and/or body cavities, and wash inside and outside with cold water; drain well. Thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before cooking. Be sure to wash utensils, cutting board, hands and anything else that has come in contact with raw turkey with hot soapy water.
• With a sharp knife, cut legs and wings off at joints. Cut off thighs and remove bones with a cut down the center. Slice dark meat and place on a platter.
• Feel for keel bone that runs lengthwise along top of the turkey and cut alongside it. Slowly guide the tip of the knife along the bone down one side of the ribcage. Gently pry breast meat away from the ribcage – meat should come off in one large piece. Follow the same procedure for other side.
• Slice across each breast, cutting pieces into the thickness you prefer.
Important Safety Tips for Storing Leftovers:
• Refrigerate or freeze leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 2 hours of serving.
• Divide large quantities into smaller portions to chill more quickly.
• Store leftover turkey in refrigerator for up to 3 days, and stuffing and gravy 1-2 days.
• Bring leftover gravy to a rolling boil before serving.