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In a pickle: What to do if the turkey’s not done on time

Last Thanksgiving, everything was cooked, warmed and ready to go. Only one problem — the turkey was nowhere close to being done.

butterball turkey

The guests have all arrived, the side dishes are ready to be eaten and the table is set. The only thing preventing everyone from enjoying their Thanksgiving meal is the fact that the turkey is still in the oven. With a few simple tricks, you can save the turkey and not let the unfinished bird ruin possibly the best meal of the year.

Turn up the heat

The first thing that comes to mind when trying to quickly cook a turkey is to simply turn up the heat in the oven. Though this works, it can lead to a very dry, flavorless turkey. First, wrap the turkey in aluminum foil to prevent over-drying, then turn the oven up to 450 degrees F. Cooking a turkey at this temperature will take two to three minutes per pound to fully cook through. If it’s halfway done, for example, cut the time in half. This will allow the turkey to finish cooking while still providing a moist, full-bodied flavor.

microwaveMicrowave it

Another option for getting the turkey done quicker is to microwave it. Remove from the oven, slice into smaller pieces, and microwave until it’s at the correct temperature of 175 degrees F. The one disadvantage to this is the skin will not crisp or brown.

Run to the store

If you don’t want to risk ruining the turkey by turning up the heat or microwaving it, don’t be ashamed to call around and find a store, deli or restaurant that is open and purchase an already prepared one. This eliminates the stress of trying to rush it, and keeps the guests happy since they will be eating turkey this Thanksgiving. Another plus — there will be plenty of leftovers. Send everyone home with a doggie bag of fresh, delicious turkey. They’ll never not want to have Thanksgiving at your place.

Tips to ensure the turkey is done on time

Thaw it completely

Before placing the turkey in the oven, make sure it’s completely thawed. For every five pounds of turkey, it needs 24 hours to thaw in the refrigerator. If you don’t have days, place the turkey in cold water, changing the water every half hour to ensure it stays cold. Each pound of turkey requires 30 minutes to thaw.

Prepare for cooking

Don’t just place the turkey into the oven directly from the refrigerator. Instead, let it sit out for an hour before cooking. This will help your turkey cook faster and more evenly, also slightly drying out the skin, allowing for a perfectly crisp, brown finish.

Cooking the turkey

turkey baster

Turkeys need to be cooked to 175 degrees F. Preheat the oven to the traditional roasting temperature of 325 degrees F. Each pound of turkey will require 13 minutes of cooking time, possibly less depending on your oven or if the turkey is unstuffed. For a 10-pound turkey, it will need approximately 130 minutes, or 2 hours 10 minutes, until completion. Start checking the temperature when the turkey is halfway done in order to prevent burning or over-drying. With these subtle tips, preparing a Thanksgiving turkey will be easy and stress-free, which is exactly what we’re aiming for!

More on Thanksgiving dinner

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Deep fried Thanksgiving turkey
Thanksgiving turkey recipes for two

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