Don't leave a safe and satisfying Thanksgiving to guesswork. Here are some simple formulas for Turkey Day math:
HOW BIG? For birds under 16 pounds, figure at least 1 pound per person (which accounts for bone weight). For larger turkeys, figure a bit less, as the bird will have a higher meat-to-bone ratio. Either way, if you want enough for seconds and leftovers (and isn't that the point?), factor in another half pound per person.
STILL FROZEN? When thawing a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, plan for 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. In a cold water bath (such as the sink), change the water every 30 minutes and plan for 30 minutes per pound.
HOW LONG? For a stuffed turkey roasted at 325 F, use the following cooking guidelines:
- 8 to 12 pounds — 3 to 4 hours;
- 12 to 16 pounds — 4 to 41/2 hours;
- 16 to 20 pounds — 41/2 to 5 hours;
- 20 to 26 pounds — 5 to 6 hours;
For unstuffed turkeys, reduce overall cooking time by 20 to 40 minutes.
HOW HOT? Turkey is safe to eat when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the innermost part of the thigh (without touching bone) reaches 165 F. The stuffing also must reach that temperature. The editors at Fine Cooking magazine say thigh meat tastes better cooked to 170 F. Either way, all of the meat is safe to eat at 165 F.
GRAVY WITH THAT? Plan to make 1/3 cup of gravy per person. For each cup of gravy, you will need 1 cup of liquid (such as turkey broth plus defatted pan juices), 1 tablespoon of fat and 11/2 tablespoons flour.
— The Associated Press