- Determine the number of customers to be served and calculate the amount
of turkey needed. Charts in the Purchasing Turkey chapter
- Schedule thawing so that product reaches 38ºF no more than 4 to 6 hours
before cooking. Times given in the following Cooking
Methods sections are for thawed turkey, parts and products (unless
specifically noted as frozen).
- Determine total cooking time using charts in this chapter. Decide when
cooking must begin in order to have whole body turkey and large parts
or pieces of turkey completely cooked 30 to 45 minutes before serving.
Smaller pieces of turkey should be ready just a few minutes before serving
as they cool quickly.
- Be sure to preheat cooking appliance to desired temperature.
- Monitor internal temperature of turkey, following the guidelines in
the Measuring Temperature section of
To rinse or not to rinse the whole bird
Today's whole body turkeys are oven-ready because of sanitary processing
and storage methods used by turkey processors.
However, USDA does recommend turkeys used in the Child Feeding Programs
be cleaned, following these guidelines:
- Remove neck from body cavity and giblets from neck cavity.
- Remove any pin feathers or pieces of lung or windpipe.
- Sanitize sink and drain board or draining area.
- Rinse turkey inside and out under cold, running water. Rinse only.
Do not leave turkey in water.
- Drain on sanitized surface.
- Use turkey immediately or cover and refrigerate.
- Do not re-use any plastic bags or boxes that have been used to store
Stuffing whole body turkeys
Extra care should be taken when stuffing the turkey. Consider the following:
- Improper handling and inadequate cooking of stuffed birds can increase
the possibility of food poisoning.
- Safe handling techniques require removal of all stuffing from the
turkey cavity if the turkey is to be refrigerated.
- Cooking the stuffing separately reduces labor.
- The amount of stuffing required is usually more than the turkey can
- Stuffing is easier to portion from pans than from a turkey.
- Roasting time is less and yield is higher for unstuffed turkeys.