The word Butterball is synonymous with turkey dinners. For the less culinary inclined public, the Butterball company has introduced fully cooked frozen turkeys in baked, broiled and smoked varieties. Preparing these turkeys reduces the chance of a raw center and reduces the time involved in cooking the bird. There are similar steps though between preparing the raw frozen turkey and the fully cooked frozen turkey. Since turkey is a poultry product, failure to follow the prescribed instructions can lead to the development of bacteria forming in the bird’s cavity. This could cause illness in anyone who eats the meat.
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Thaw the turkey, breast-side up, in your refrigerator for two to five days prior to cooking. If the turkey is not entirely thawed, moisture will be lost in cooking the turkey to the point at which the interior reaches a palatable temperature. Butterball recommends a temperature of 140 F.
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Remove the wrapper and inspect the turkey frozen spots. If spots of frozen meat remain, you will have to use extra caution when cooking to ensure the turkey is cooked thoroughly.
Place turkey into a roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Don’t attempt to stuff the turkey. The stuffing will not cook in the length of time needed to heat it. Insert an oven thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh meat.
Pour one can of chicken broth into the pan and some into the cavity of the bird to add moisture and flavor to the bird.
Brush the turkey with cooking oil, butter or spray. This will help keep the skin from drying out. The skin is essentially the seal over the breast meat that keeps the natural juices inside the bird.
Cover the turkey with foil. If you are cooking the smoked variety, keep the foil on for the entire cooking time. This will keep the smoky flavoring from escaping. If you are cooking the baked variety, cover the turkey after it has been cooking for an hour. This will also help keep the meat from drying out and the skin from burning.
Place the pan and turkey into the oven and cook the small turkeys, under ten pounds, for 90 minutes. For medium sized turkeys, under 16 pounds, cook for 2 hours. For large turkeys, up to 18 pounds, cook for 2 ½ hours.
Check the thermometer thirty minutes before the time is up to see if it has reached 140 F. If it has, remove it immediately.
Carve the turkey and serve as soon as possible.