Thaw a frozen turkey in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees or below, allowing about 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. Thawed and fresh turkeys can be held in the refrigerator up to two days before cooking.
If your frozen turkey hasn’t completely thawed, leave it in its plastic bag and soak it submerged in water in a clean kitchen sink. Change the water every 30 minutes. Once completely thawed, cook immediately. Clean sink thoroughly.
Do not wash the turkey before cooking to avoid spreading bacteria to other food, utensils, and kitchen surfaces. Cooking properly will kill bacteria. Carefully wipe out any liquid from cavity with paper towels.
To test meat thermometer accuracy fill a large glass with crushed ice, add water to the top of the ice, and place the probe at least two inches into the water (not on the ice or glass). After about 30 seconds, it should register 32 degrees.
When you think the bird is cooked, use the thermometer to check the turkey for doneness. Measure the temperature in three places: in the innermost portions of the thigh and wing, and in the thickest part of the breast. It should read at least 165 degrees in all three places.
No matter what the turkey flesh registers, if the bird is stuffed, you have to make sure the center of the stuffing also reaches 165 degrees.
Don’t leave the Thanksgiving feast on the kitchen counter or buffet all afternoon. Put leftover cooked meat and accompaniments separately in shallow containers and refrigerate within 2 hours.
Store leftovers for up to four days. Reheat leftovers until they also register 165 degrees.