Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away.  Are you ready?

Thanksgiving is just 2 weeks away.  Are you ready?  This week’s column will help you prepare the turkey.

Allow about one pound of bone-in turkey per person.  This will yield about one-half pound turkey meat per person.

The easiest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. Thawing time will depend on the size of the turkey.

Allow 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator for each five pounds of turkey. For example, transfer a 14-pound turkey from the freezer to the refrigerator three to four days prior to the holiday; or, for a 20-pound turkey, four to five days prior to the holiday.

To thaw, place a frozen turkey (in its store wrapper) in a shallow pan with a lip (to catch juices that may leak) on a lower shelf in the refrigerator.

If a turkey is still a little frozen early in the day the meal is planned, empty the sink, and place the partially frozen turkey in cold water (in the sink). Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed for cooking.

Cooking dressing (or stuffing) within the cavity of the turkey is no longer recommended.  Food safety professionals now cite the turkey cavity as an attractive area for food-borne bacteria.  Bake the dressing in a casserole dish to prevent illness. The size and depth of the casserole or baking dish will need to be considered in determining cooking time, which usually varies from 30 to 45 minutes.

Plan to oven roast a turkey at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes per pound plus about 20 minutes for the turkey to stand (covered) before carving.

Pop-up timers packaged with the turkey have a short (usually 1- to 1- 1/2 inch) probe and should not be used to gauge doneness. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees F for the turkey to be cooked.  You can buy food thermometers in most supermarkets and hardware stores.

Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees F) and cold foods cold (below 40 degrees F) to protect food quality and discourage food-borne bacteria.