When a special event or the holidays are looming, but you just don't have time to cook a turkey from scratch, a precooked frozen Butterball turkey, turkey breast or smoked turkey is a viable option for that special meal. A precooked frozen turkey or turkey breast provides the tasty treat for family and friends without wearing you out. Because the turkey is already fully cooked, you can serve it cold or heat it gently while preparing all the side dishes.
Thaw the Turkey
Place the precooked frozen turkey in the refrigerator to thaw, two to five days before you plan to serve the bird. Place it breast-side up. Do not thaw the turkey on the counter; bacteria can grow in the partially thawed meat when it's at room temperature.
Serve the Turkey Cold
Once the turkey is fully thawed, unwrap it and carve it. Arrange the slices on a serving platter; cover it and allow it to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Add rolls or sliced breads, cheeses, tomatoes, avocados, lettuce, fruits, mayonnaise, aioli and a selection of mustards for a satisfactory cold buffet.
Heat a Precooked Frozen Butterball Turkey
Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Thaw the whole Butterball turkey, smoked turkey or turkey breast completely; then place it breast-side down in a roasting pan. Add a cup or two of water, turkey broth or chicken broth to the pan. Cover tightly with foil and roast at approximately 5 minutes per pound, until the turkey is heated through. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey is at least 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and thigh, per USDA recommendations.
Alternately, heat a whole (unsmoked) turkey or Butterball turkey breast with the breast up. Brush the turkey with vegetable oil or spray it with a cooking spray. If the turkey is browning too fast or appears dry, cover with foil after 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Warm the Turkey in a Roaster Oven
Free up the oven for the side dishes by warming the turkey in an electric roaster oven. Set the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey on the rack and lower it into the inner roasting pan. Add 1 to 2 cups of water or broth to the pan. Cover and heat at 5 minutes per pound until the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees.
Prepare Stuffing and Other Side Dishes
Do not stuff a precooked turkey. The interior of the turkey will not be hot long enough to fully cook the stuffing; instead, prepare your favorite stuffing recipe and place it in a casserole dish. Stir in a little turkey broth to add that turkey flavor. Cover and bake along with your favorite side dishes, such as macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole. Make gravy from the broth and drippings in the bottom of the roasting pan.
Store the Leftovers Safely
Put turkey leftovers and side dishes away within two hours of serving. The turkey is easier to store if you finish carving it and place the meat in storage containers to refrigerate or freeze immediately. Put the turkey carcass in a large pot and cover it with water to simmer into bone broth. After simmering for 8 to 24 hours, cool, strain and pour into containers. Freeze the bone broth for use in soups.
Reheat Leftovers Gently
Leftover turkey slices may be reheated by placing them in a casserole dish, covering them with broth and heating in the microwave until hot for 20 to 30 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also dice the remnants of the turkey and use it in a variety of dishes, including casseroles, enchiladas, pasta and soups.