With supermarket shortages threatening to ruin Christmas, it looks like more of us might be resorting to frozen produce for Christmas dinner this year.
But, while many of us might know what to do with frozen veg, or a frozen chicken breast, dealing with an entire bird is a completely different story.
When it comes to cooking meat that has been frozen, we all know it’s important to be careful. Poisoning your entire family on Christmas Day is something to be avoided at all costs.
So, here are the key things you need to know if you do decide to go frozen this festive period:
How long does a frozen turkey take to defrost?
If you buy a frozen turkey, you have to make sure it’s properly defrosted before cooking – all the way through.
If it’s still frozen in places it might not cook evenly, which means that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process – which could ruin Christmas for everyone.
But don’t wake up on Christmas morning and think you can take your bird out of the freezer and whack it in the over. Defrosting takes time. Depending on the size of your turkey, it can take days.
So, it’s important to plan ahead.
Work out the defrosting time you need in advance, so you know how much time to allow.
First, you should check the packaging for any guidance – hopefully it will tell you how long it will need to defrost.
If there are no defrosting instructions, the NHS suggests that you should thaw your turkey in a fridge at 4C (39F) for 10-12 hours per kilogram. Take a look at your fridge settings, because not all fridges will be set to this temperature.
When your turkey is fully defrosted, keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it.
How to defrost a frozen a turkey
Now that you know how long you need, and the temperature to set your fridge to, there are some other things you need to think about as well.
Make sure you defrost your turkey in the fridge, don’t just leave it on the countertop, or stick it in the oven.
You will also need to separate from other foods in the fridge. Keep it in a dish or container large enough to catch any defrosted juices. This is important to stop bacteria from spreading.
A good idea might be to clear the bottom shelf of all other food and leave your turkey there, making sure the juices can’t escape.
Pour away the liquid that comes out of the defrosting turkey regularly to stop it overflowing and spreading bacteria. You’ll be surprised at the volume of juices at defrosts.
Be careful not to splash the liquid onto worktops, dishes, cloths or other food.
Another top tip is to remove the giblets and neck (if your turkey has these things) as soon as possible, as this will speed up the thawing process.
Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any part of the raw turkey.
How to cook a defrosted turkey
Before you start cooking, you need to check inside the turkey. Not a pleasant job, but it has to be done. 2You’re checking to make sure there are no ice crystals in the bird’s cavity.
Then, test the thicker parts of the turkey with a fork to check if the meat feels frozen.
When you’re certain your bird is thoroughly defrosted, all the way through, stick the oven on.
Cooking time will depend on the size of your turkey, but here is a general guide, in an oven preheated to 180C (350F, gas mark 4):
- 45 minutes per kilogram, plus 20 minutes, for a turkey under 4.5kg
- 40 minutes per kilogram for a turkey that’s between 4.5kg and 6.5kg
- 35 minutes per kilogram for a turkey of more than 6.5kg
It’s important to note that these cooking times are based on unstuffed turkeys. The NHS says it is safer to cook your stuffing in a separate roasting tin rather than inside the bird, so the guidelines are more accurate.
If you cook your bird with the stuffing inside, you need to allow extra time for the stuffing and for the fact that it will cook slower.
Can you cook a turkey from frozen?
The Food Standards Agency says some turkeys can be cooked from frozen if the manufacturer’s instructions say so. So, the best thing to do is check the packaging for guidance.
If in doubt, or if there is no guidance on the packaging, it is always safer to thoroughly defrost your turkey before cooking it.
How long can you keep a turkey in the freezer?
Guidance on this varies, and it is always best to check the best-before date on the packaging of your frozen turkey.
But when properly stored, raw turkey pieces should be fine in the freezer for up to nine months, while whole raw turkeys can last for a year when frozen.
Cooked turkey pieces last in the freezer for two to six months.
So, if you buy a frozen raw turkey now, it will still be good to defrost, cook and eat in December.
Credit: Original article published here.