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Turkey Defrosting Freakout

Turkey Defrosting Freakout
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  • Turkey Defrosting Freakout

    Post #1 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am
    Post #1 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am Post #1 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:42 am
    I gave my turkey a poke this morning, and to my surprise, it felt nearly defrosted already (my fridge usually takes 2 days to fully defrost 2 lbs of chicken). This turkey is a 20-lb bird that was frozen solid when I bought it on Friday the 20th. I'm planning on cooking it this Friday. If it is indeed totally defrosted already, will it keep that long in the fridge? I'll be cooking it in the oven Friday morning, probably at 325 so I can eventually bake my HMP Pork Pie at the same time.

    Thanks guys
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #2 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:47 am
    Post #2 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:47 am Post #2 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:47 am
    From what I've read - two to four days.
    "At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom." George Carlin
  • Post #3 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:52 am
    Post #3 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:52 am Post #3 - November 23rd, 2009, 11:52 am
    USDA on turkeys I think you're OK; I would hedge my bets by packing it in ice and getting a refrigerator thermometer.
  • Post #4 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:04 pm
    Post #4 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:04 pm Post #4 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:04 pm
    I'm really surprised it thawed in that amount of time. Have you checked the temp of your refrigerator lately? Maybe mine is too cold but I could never get mine to thaw that fast.
  • Post #5 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:28 pm
    Post #5 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:28 pm Post #5 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:28 pm
    Jean Blanchard wrote:I'm really surprised it thawed in that amount of time. Have you checked the temp of your refrigerator lately? Maybe mine is too cold but I could never get mine to thaw that fast.


    No but it's a pretty new fridge, less than 6 years old. Plus, the freezer always gets ice buildup and nothing ever spoils early, but I think I will take your and MHays' advice and put the thermometer in there just to check. I'm hoping that my poke just showed the give on the outer layer of turkey and the inner layers are still icy. I'll report again tomorrow!
    Last edited by Pie Lady on November 23rd, 2009, 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #6 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:30 pm
    Post #6 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:30 pm Post #6 - November 23rd, 2009, 1:30 pm
    Hi,

    I don't think your turkey is totally defrosted. Sure the exterior may be springy, but the interior is likely very icy.

    Usually, I buy my Thanksgiving turkey the Friday before. This year I bought a 22+ pound turkey on Sunday afternoon. I fully expect when I put it to brine either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, to find it icy cold inside. The brining process will even out the temperature. I'm not especially worried picking it up this late.

    I always keep a refrigerator thermometer to keep things in line.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - November 24th, 2009, 11:16 am
    Post #7 - November 24th, 2009, 11:16 am Post #7 - November 24th, 2009, 11:16 am
    I checked the temperature and it's hovering around 30 degrees. Also, I turned it up just a touch for good measure. So I guess I'm safe, but this thing is going to be a real bitch to remove from the fridge: I can see leakage in the Jewel bag it's in. Can't wait to cook it off!
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #8 - November 24th, 2009, 11:30 am
    Post #8 - November 24th, 2009, 11:30 am Post #8 - November 24th, 2009, 11:30 am
    my 12 pounder sat in the 'fridge (37˚) for 4 days and there were ice crystals on the ribcage last night when I
    broke down the bird. Soft on the outside icy on the inside...
  • Post #9 - November 24th, 2009, 12:17 pm
    Post #9 - November 24th, 2009, 12:17 pm Post #9 - November 24th, 2009, 12:17 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:I checked the temperature and it's hovering around 30 degrees. Also, I turned it up just a touch for good measure. So I guess I'm safe, but this thing is going to be a real bitch to remove from the fridge: I can see leakage in the Jewel bag it's in. Can't wait to cook it off!

    To avoid cross contamination in my refrigerator, which is really a big mess. I put whatever I am defrosting in a bowl, plate or pan to catch stray fluids.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - November 24th, 2009, 9:58 pm
    Post #10 - November 24th, 2009, 9:58 pm Post #10 - November 24th, 2009, 9:58 pm
    I don't think I have anything that big besides the roasting pan, but then the door won't close. But so far my double bagging has kept everything nice & neat. Moving it out on Friday, on the other hand, is another story! :P (that symbolizes "icky poo")
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #11 - November 27th, 2009, 12:55 am
    Post #11 - November 27th, 2009, 12:55 am Post #11 - November 27th, 2009, 12:55 am
    Hi,

    Butterball answer lady said on the radio today, "A day to defrost every four pounds of turkey." Your turkey bought Friday was defrosted by Wednesday. Your cook is Friday. You are well within any definition of safe.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - November 27th, 2009, 12:36 pm
    Post #12 - November 27th, 2009, 12:36 pm Post #12 - November 27th, 2009, 12:36 pm
    Kickass! Thanks for everybody's help!
    It's in the oven right now and it smells mighty tasty. My pumpkin pies turned out all pretty, not cracked like usual, my chocolate cream pie looks quite rich (thanks Lindt!) and so far I'm pretty pleased.
    I'm taking my doctor's advice and throwing the bones, neck, and mirepoix together with water in the slow cooker tonight and tomorrow I'll have stock. I can't believe I'm so excited about the stock! :lol:
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love
    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach
    Read "Cooking for One" at Literary Orphans via my author page.

    Late-Nite Eats Database
  • Post #13 - November 27th, 2017, 12:39 pm
    Post #13 - November 27th, 2017, 12:39 pm Post #13 - November 27th, 2017, 12:39 pm
    Hi,

    I now live with a much smaller refrigerator. Where my old refrigerator could hold a large bird and everything else. My current fridge would be overwhelmed or maybe it is really me who is overwhelmed.

    There was a college dorm refrigerator in the garage, which we brought in as an overflow spare.

    On Saturday, I popped in a 16-pound turkey to slowly defrost. I checked Sunday evening to find it rock solid frozen.

    Checked the temperature gauge to find it on maximum cold. Changed it to the lowest setting, which finally started the defrosting process.

    On Thursday morning, there was a little chilly center in the bird. Sprayed in some water to remove any ice crystals. Just before roasting, I placed a probe in the breast near the bone. It registered 32 degrees.

    The bird cooked from this chilly state took only 45 minutes longer to cook than initially predicted.

    On Monday morning, if there had been no signs of defrosting. I was considering buying a never-frozen turkey.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - November 27th, 2017, 9:41 pm
    Post #14 - November 27th, 2017, 9:41 pm Post #14 - November 27th, 2017, 9:41 pm
    Interesting. Sixteen-pound turkey, not completely defrosted, only 45 minutes more? I'd be fine with that.

    I only learned in the last year or two that you can in fact cook a turkey or a chicken from frozen with no defrosting. Supposedly (I say that because I haven't actually tried it yet) it just takes more time. Think of how many fewer panicky calls there would have to be to the Butterball Hotline if that information were more widely disseminated.

    http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-a-completely-frozen-turkey-for-thanksgiving-225796
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #15 - November 27th, 2017, 11:12 pm
    Post #15 - November 27th, 2017, 11:12 pm Post #15 - November 27th, 2017, 11:12 pm
    Hi,

    Some years ago, I bought a frozen stuffed raw turkey. It was intended to go straight from freezer to oven to table.

    Not surprisingly the stuffing wasn't what we liked, though it was an otherwise satisfactory turkey.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - December 1st, 2017, 8:33 pm
    Post #16 - December 1st, 2017, 8:33 pm Post #16 - December 1st, 2017, 8:33 pm
    :shock: I have come across several articles that say that you can cook a turkey straight from frozen. Just put the (unwrapped -- duh) frozen bird on a baking sheet in the oven and cook it.

    This article pretty much spells out the entire process.

    Has anyone ever done this? It is intriguing not to have to wrestle with the thawed bird.
  • Post #17 - December 1st, 2017, 11:05 pm
    Post #17 - December 1st, 2017, 11:05 pm Post #17 - December 1st, 2017, 11:05 pm
    I wanted to let folks know that you can do dry brining with a frozen bird, starting at least three days before the big feast. And be sure to use paper towels to sop up any water, and let it air dry in the fridge for at least 12 hours, to evaporate the excess moisture (to get a beautifully crisp and brown skin... moisture is the enemy of a roasted bird). Using the Judy Bird technique, you start roasting at a high temp breast-down, then flip and finish at the lower temp. Let it rest a bit before carving. We've experimented with many techniques over the years, and this is the winnah!
    “Assuredly it is a great accomplishment to be a novelist, but it is no mediocre glory to be a cook.” -- Alexandre Dumas

    "I give you Chicago. It is no London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chitling and sparerib. It is alive from tail to snout." -- H.L. Mencken
  • Post #18 - December 2nd, 2017, 12:24 pm
    Post #18 - December 2nd, 2017, 12:24 pm Post #18 - December 2nd, 2017, 12:24 pm
    I've done chicken parts from frozen. They were a bit stuck together, so it didn't work as well as when you can start from everything flat and not touching.

    (I had purchased a whole chicken, dismembered it so I could use the back etc for stock, and froze the parts for use another day)
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #19 - April 24th, 2018, 11:34 am
    Post #19 - April 24th, 2018, 11:34 am Post #19 - April 24th, 2018, 11:34 am
    Joy wrote::shock: I have come across several articles that say that you can cook a turkey straight from frozen. Just put the (unwrapped -- duh) frozen bird on a baking sheet in the oven and cook it.

    This article pretty much spells out the entire process.

    Has anyone ever done this? It is intriguing not to have to wrestle with the thawed bird.

    Hi,

    After reading this, I experimented with a five-pound chicken. It was just fine.

    Since spring may really arrive and roasting season perhaps coming to a close, I decided to reduce the volume of food kept in the freezer. Specifically, I have two turkeys weighing 20 and 23 pounds. I decided to cook the 23-pound turkey with the idea of portioning the cooked meat for future meals. The other turkey might get smoked sometime over the summer when extended family come to visit.

    I am using a bit more detailed, though pretty much parallel, instructions from the Williams Sonoma blog. My 23-pound turkey might be ready in seven hours.

    I will update this post later with what actually happened.

    At three hours, I removed the paper wrapped giblets from the neck. I might have done it earlier, but I was away at lunch. The neck stuck in the cavity was not coming loose. It would twist, but not come out.

    At four hours, I finally got the neck to come free.

    At just over six hours, the breast was at 165 and the thighs at just over 175. I let the bird rest for over 30 minutes before carving.

    When I later disassembled the bird to make stock, some meat at the very core seemed less than ideal. In retrospect, I might have let the bird cook for 30 minutes more despite hitting accurate temps.

    In a pinch or lack of refrigerator space, frozen turkey to table is just a matter of extra time for an acceptable bird.

    My family was disappointed nobody was invited for 'Thanksgiving in April.' I really was uncertain how long this might take. I hate getting the pleading eye silently inquiring when dinner will be ready. Who knows, it could have been an 8 pm dinner instead of 6 pm.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #20 - October 15th, 2018, 2:06 pm
    Post #20 - October 15th, 2018, 2:06 pm Post #20 - October 15th, 2018, 2:06 pm
    Hi,

    Making room in the freezer for the holidays, I cooked another 20-pound turkey directly from freezer to oven.

    I awoke at 5:00 am on Sunday to preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Turkey was in the oven about 15 minutes later. I went back to bed.

    Around 8:00 am, I removed the turkey from the oven to remove the giblets from the neck skin. I tried to remove the neck from the body cavity, but it was still encased in ice. I brushed butter on the skin, then returned it to the oven.

    Around 10:00 am, I removed the turkey and finally removed the neck. I also removed any liquid from the body cavity to the simmering giblet stock.

    Just after noon, the turkey was done. Out came the turkey and in went the stuffing, then I elevated the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

    If you don't have the refrigerator space to defrost a turkey or simply made a last minute decision for turkey, it is no big deal to cook a turkey directly from the freezer.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #21 - October 15th, 2018, 2:09 pm
    Post #21 - October 15th, 2018, 2:09 pm Post #21 - October 15th, 2018, 2:09 pm
    I'd be curious to see how long parts of the meat are in the "danger zone" during this kind of cooking. It seems that there would be awfully long times of thawed-but-not-cooked in parts of the bird.

    I have a bluetooth four-probe thermometer that links to a smartphone that can log the temps over time (I don't use it much because it's range is so poor that I can't go in the house and still monitor the smoker). If you'd like to borrow it for the next such cook, let me know.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #22 - October 16th, 2018, 6:07 pm
    Post #22 - October 16th, 2018, 6:07 pm Post #22 - October 16th, 2018, 6:07 pm
    I'm not sure I see the relevance of the "danger zone." This is not something that's going to be left sitting out on a counter or otherwise left to rise to +40-degree-F temps and then eaten at room temperature. This is something that's going to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Are there pathogens of concern that would survive not only freezing but also cooking to that temperature?

    I sometimes think we get a little nutty, as Julia Child would say, about the so-called danger zone. Suppose you heat a soup or stew to boiling and then keep it covered until it cools to room temperature and you put it in your fridge --- as opposed to the advice ATK and others sometime give about icing the pot down or otherwise doing whatever you can to cool it quickly, or failing that, putting it in your fridge not much cooler than boiling and heating up your whole fridge in the process, all out of fear of this danger zone? How is something that's been boiled and kept sealed going to be able to harbor any pathogens? Similarly, with a frozen chicken or turkey, how's something that's been frozen and then cooked to an internal temp of 180 deg F going to be able to harbor any pathogens?

    In the case of slow (crockpot) cooking, conversely, I wouldn't dispute that it might be okay to start with small frozen pieces of meat (chicken pieces, for example) but that it's probably not a good idea to start with a large frozen piece of meat (a chuck roast, for example), because of the amount of time the slow cooker would take to come up to full temperature and the maximum temperature it can achieve.

    Maybe this should be moved to another thread called Highway to the Danger Zone.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #23 - October 16th, 2018, 8:00 pm
    Post #23 - October 16th, 2018, 8:00 pm Post #23 - October 16th, 2018, 8:00 pm
    Katie wrote:I'm not sure I see the relevance of the "danger zone." This is not something that's going to be left sitting out on a counter or otherwise left to rise to +40-degree-F temps and then eaten at room temperature. This is something that's going to be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. Are there pathogens of concern that would survive not only freezing but also cooking to that temperature?


    I won't comment on whether you can safely cook a turkey from frozen, there is ample evidence presented here that you might be able to!

    However, sometimes it's not the pathogens themselves but the toxins they generate that cause us a lot of problems when we eat them. If the meat is sitting in the danger zone for a decent amount of time, AND there are pathogens creating toxins, it's possible that it doesn't matter what temperature you cook the turkey to. It can still cause plenty of problems when consumed (unless you turn it to ash, of course).
  • Post #24 - October 16th, 2018, 9:24 pm
    Post #24 - October 16th, 2018, 9:24 pm Post #24 - October 16th, 2018, 9:24 pm
    Thanks, bobbywal. I am interested in learning more about this.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #25 - Yesterday, 12:50 am
    Post #25 - Yesterday, 12:50 am Post #25 - Yesterday, 12:50 am
    Hi,

    Butterball sells a frozen stuffed turkey with instructions to reheat at 325 degrees for an extended period of time.

    I cooked a hallow turkey at 325 degrees for hours, too. It is a bigger deal to heat a solid object (stuffed bird) than one with an empty core (unstuffed turkey).

    I am pretty comfortable I am not creating health issues for myself and guests by cooking a turkey straight from the freezer.

    Until I tried it myself, I was not very confident of the outcome. It sure is liberating not having to worry about adequately defrosting a turkey.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #26 - Yesterday, 1:39 pm
    Post #26 - Yesterday, 1:39 pm Post #26 - Yesterday, 1:39 pm
    Frozen *stuffed* turkey? I have got to keep an eye out for that!

    ETA: Hmm. Online searching suggests that these are currently only sold in Canada. I put a phone on speaker, called 1-800-BUTTERBALL, and waited an hour to ask if they could be bought somewhere in the Chicago area or anywhere in the US for that matter, but the Butterball people must be too busy to answer calls today.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"

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