It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving, and the folks at the Butterball Turkey Hotline are ready and willing to help you out with any Thanksgiving and other holiday turkey-related questions you might have ranging from the usual to the absurd. While most people call with the usual procedural questions about the best or safest way to roast or prepare a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, others are a bit more amusing and bizarre, ranging from settling bets to using high-powered hardware from the shed to carve the Thanksgiving bird. And to answer the most common question, no, your Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to be a Butterball for you to give the Butterball crew a call.
Butterball Hotline: (800) 288-8372
Making a Thanksgiving turkey, especially for the first time can be scary, and so if you need a little help, calling the Butterball Turkey Hotline might be more helpful than calling your mom, mother-in-law, or friend. The folks on the other end of the line at Butterball are cool and calm and are ready to answer whatever questions you might have, but they say there are some questions from Thanksgiving past that stick out in their minds and still make them chuckle.
One woman who had worked for the Butterball Hotline for several Thanksgiving holidays says that there are two questions that she had to ask the men to repeat.
“How do you carve a turkey when all of its bones have been broken?”
A man called and explained that when his defrosted Thanksgiving turkey didn’t fit in his pan, he wrapped the turkey in a towel and jumped up and down on it until he got it into his roasting pan. The woman suggested that next year, a larger pan or two smaller turkeys might be a better option, but carve carefully and warn your guests about bone shards.
The next was about carving the Thanksgiving turkey.
“I carved my turkey with a chainsaw… is the chain grease going to adversely affect my turkey?”
The answer is simple, yes, carving with a chainsaw is unhygienic, and if you don’t have an electric knife, sharpen a carving set.
Each year for the months of November and December, just under fifty people at Butterball answer around 170k calls with various Thanksgiving turkey questions. While many questions are about food safety, and how and when to defrost their turkey, others are about the logistics of cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.
“Where does the meat thermometer go?”
Figuring out just where to insert a meat thermometer into your turkey seems to be a concern for many people calling the Butterball Hotline.
“If stuffed, the tip of the meat thermometer should be placed inside the stuffed cavity of the turkey. If unstuffed, the tip of the meat thermometer should be placed in the thigh muscle just above and beyond the lower part of the thigh bone, but not touching the bone, and pointing toward the body.”
If you are using an oven-safe thermometer, place it in the turkey before placing it in the oven, and turn it in a way that you can read it upon opening your oven door.
A big question for Thanksgiving newbies is how to prepare the turkey before putting it in the oven. Tales of those who have cooked their bird with the giblet bag (often plastic) still in the cavity are of legend and frequently ruin the main Thanksgiving dish.
- Remove original plastic wrapper from thawed or fresh turkey.
- Remove the neck and giblets from the body and neck cavities.
- Drain juices and blot turkey dry with paper towels.
- Stuff the turkey (optional) just before roasting; ingredients may be prepared earlier, but keep moist and dry ingredients separate and combine just before stuffing.
- Return legs to tucked position, if untucked for cleaning or stuffing.
- Insert oven-safe meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh.
- Brush with oil to prevent drying of the skin. Follow roasting directions that come with every Butterball turkey.
But some of the most panicked calls to the Butterball Hotline from those roasting their Thanksgiving turkey are not about prep, but about salvaging a turkey which spent too much time in the oven. Anxiety attacks concerning your dry Thanksgiving turkey being the talk of the table can be put aside because the Butterball Hotline people are ready to help with some turkey quick-fixes.
First, let your gravy save your dry bird. Think of gravy as the moisturizer for your Thanksgiving turkey.
“Cover the slices of meat with lots of that delicious gravy, and no one will be the wiser. A really good gravy does a lot for even the driest cut of meat.”
Consider warming your turkey with chicken stock. Carve your turkey off the bone and place the slices in a baking dish. Pour chicken or turkey gravy over your slices and place the dish, covered with aluminum foil into a 250-degree oven for ten minutes.
If all else fails, focus on your Thanksgiving side dishes by stepping up your potato game.
Have a very happy Thanksgiving!
[Featured Image by Bree Fowler/AP Images]