Thanksgiving, an American-Pilgrim-initiated food feast, can be a perplexing challenge. The centerpiece, a turkey, poses several "how to" questions. Those questions are answered by smartphone apps, twitter, Facebook, and chat rooms.
How long do I cook the bird has been pondered since the 1600?s when the Pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for bringing them safely to the New World. An undercooked turkey, rather than soothing the soul, can foul, or upset the stomach. Stuffing can often be the culprit. Advisors say, "Prepare your stuffing right before you place it in the turkey. Use only cooked ingredients in stuffing (i.e., sautéed vegetables, cooked meats or seafood,). It is also important to remember to use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs."
A smartphone app, Turkey Timer, can automate when to baste and when to serve the bird according to information you enter about size and stuffing. The app uses algorithms based on cookbook information.
A bilingual (English and Spanish) Butterball Turkey Talk Line has been available throughout November and December since 1983. Now their help is provided through Facebook, email and Twitter. More than 50 people stand ready to answer what to do if your turkey catches fire ? more of concern now that deep fried turkeys are the vogue. They will respond via email if you prefer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might chat with Marjorie Klindera, who like many on the support lines has a degree in home economics. She says: "I can ease the anxieties of a first-time cook or help families out of a real turkey predicament!"
Typical short questions requiring short answers can be handled by Butterball over Twitter. What size turkey should I get for a family of six, or how long with it take to thaw a 16 pound turkey are common queries. The professionals, however, can?t help with every problem. Drawing on a master?s degree in nutrition, a registered dietitian, Sue Smith, fields many questions, but one stumped her. She says: "A caller from Colorado wanted to store her turkey outside since it was below 40 degrees out. Well, there was a snowstorm and 10 inches of snow fell. She forgot all about her turkey and called to say she couldn?t find it!"
At the Butterball website, you can rate recipes with one to five wishbones. A very simple and unique meal that requires only 20 minutes preparation and 2 hours cooking time is roast turkey breast with mascarpone, prosciutto and Italian herbs.
Non traditional TOFURKY is an easy, healthy alternative
If your heart or health isn?t into killing a living creature for your family?s celebration, check out Turtle Island Foods. A "tofurky" may be your answer. Since 1995 this tofu-wheat protein blend, with turkey-like texture and flavor has been popular with vegetarians. It comes stuffed with wild rice and whole wheat bread crumbs and cuts just like turkey but without the pesky bones. Accompanying gravy includes diced, Tofurky Roast "giblets." You can pick up the package at Whole Foods or other natural food stores nationwide.
Good Housekeeping, the popular checkout stand magazine, has an online site filled with more information about turkey types. They explain what constitutes kosher, organic, free range, and prepackaged turkeys. You?ll also find how long to keep leftovers ? if there are any.
Click here to take a turkey quiz that asks questions such as: What is a turkey wattle? That?s wattle, not waddle like ducks do. You might also learn some geography.