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When the going gets tough with Thanksgiving dinner prep, the tough really gets going. And it always stems from one of the more intimidating Thanksgiving dishes: the turkey. Whether roasted, smoked, grilled, or fried – Thanksgiving’s most flavorful bird can give even the most talented of cooks the saltiest blues.
So what if we told you there was a lifeline for struggling holiday cooks? Or a saving grace for amateur turkey-roasting newbies? Well there is.
Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line experts have dished experienced turkey advice for 35 years — helping over 3 million holiday cooks back off the ledge, and serve their prized turkey dishes with precision and ease.
Master Chef Anthony (Tony) Seta (pictured below) is one of Butterball’s Talk-Line experts — lending his culinary expertise to Talk-Line users, turkey enthusiasts, aspiring chefs and beyond. A pioneer of his time, Master Chef Tony has been the main force behind the top tasty creations for Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Olive Garden Italian Restaurants, Bonefish Grill and many other quick serve, family and casual dining establishments.
As only one of 65 Master Chefs certified by the American Culinary Federation, we tapped the prominent chef for all things Turkey #inspo, throwback Turkey (#tbt) memories, and of course his top tips and tricks for dishing up a knockout Thanksgiving feast.
“It was a newlywed – her first Thanksgiving,” Master Chef Tony recalls. “So she’s in an apartment, and she’s got this very small oven. And she was thinking that roasting a turkey is almost like baking a cake. She called in (to the Butterball Talk Line) and wanted to know that, ‘If I put my turkey in the oven, will it expand like a cake, and thicken right in the oven?’ – and I assured her that that would not happen, and it might even shrink a little bit for her.”
Stories like these and even more innocent but laughable memories, make their way through the Butterball Talk Line, but there’s no turkey horror story or propaganda, big or small, that proves too tough for Master Chef Tony or the talk-line experts. Before even conquering the bake-like-a-cake turkey phobias, callers are always reminded of the essential four T’s to turkey food safety:
THE FOUR T’S TO TURKEY FOOD SAFETY
- THAW: Place the unopened turkey, breast side up, on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow at least 24 hours of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey.
- TEMPERATURE: Always use a meat thermometer to determine when the turkey is done. The breast should be between 165 and 170 degrees. The thigh needs to reach up to 180 degrees, and the center of the turkey should be 165 degrees.
- TWO-HOUR STORAGE: Store leftovers in separate containers within two hours after cooking.
- THREE DAYS TO EAT: Your leftovers will last 3 days in the refrigerator. Eat or freeze leftover turkey within that time period.
THE CURE FOR THE COMMON DRY TURKEY SYNDROME
But what about the most common difficulty when it comes to turkey preparation: the dry turkey syndrome?
“The big thing is a thermometer – and really having a great thermometer, that will assure that the turkey is not going to be overcooked. Looking to those particular temperatures (above), will assure that the turkey will not dry out and you’ve got that golden brown, moist turkey, and something that everyone will want to enjoy,” Master Chef Tony advises.
“Sometimes you can grind a turkey too and that will help to add a little bit extra moisture to the turkey — but the main thing, if I can assure you, is the use of a thermometer. That is the greatest prevention of a dry turkey – and making sure that you reach those internal temperatures.”
Now that you’ve got the cure for dry turkey syndrome, Master Chef Tony added in an extra bit of spice for those wanting to up their turkey game for this Thanksgiving holiday.
“I always roast a turkey traditionally; I charcoal roasted turkey,” the Master Chef adds. “I [also] use a method that they call spatch-cocking. They remove the backbone of the turkey – you spread it out and lay it on the grill. I will then take a little bit of oil, a nice little spicy rub, place it on top of that and then cook the turkey that way.”
While the name may seem a bit more complex than the actual process, spatch-cocking (pictured above) is just merely one of the ways that holiday cooks can go for gold this Thanksgiving.
“Another great way of preparing turkey is fried turkey. It’s got an excellent flavor to it and you can probably prepare a 12-pound turkey in under an hour,” muses Master Chef Tony. “It’s also a quick preparation and a very tasty one too.”
For more Butterball turkey prep tips, recipes from Master Chef Tony, or Butterball talk line info, visit Butterball.com or dial 1-800-BUTTERBALL. Celebrate #TBThanksgiving with Butterball by showing your #TBThanksgiving photos for a chance to win a $1,000 Visa gift card and other prizes. Visit Butterball.com for more info.