It’s November. Halloween is just over and stores are already putting up Christmas decorations. Sandwiched in between those holidays is Thanksgiving; the day turkey’s and many home cooks, across America, fear.
Roasting a turkey to succulent perfection can be daunting; enter the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line
In its first year of operation back in 1981, the Turkey Talk-Line's six home economists fielded 11,000 phone calls. Last year, a team of 50 turkey experts in Naperville, Illinois, provide answers to more than 100,000 questions from November and December. According to Butterball.com, they've handled calls regarding everything from "how to cook for a whole firehouse, how to impress the in-laws, and how to serve international students their first American Thanksgiving dinner."
Here is a sampling of some of the more colorful calls the Hotline has received over the years:
Turkey Treasure… After discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Talk-Line to ask about the best way to cook the 30+ year-old bird. Although the Talk-Line staffer recommended the open roasting pan method to cook most turkeys, this time she suggested that the first step was to purchase a fresher fowl! This same gentleman also had in his freezer: the top of his wedding cake and a snowball from every snowstorm he'd experienced in Alabama.
Third Times a Charm…One caller was well versed at walking down the aisle, but not so versed when it came to cooking her Thanksgiving turkey. The caller explained to Carol Miller, 20+ year Talk-Line veteran, Thanksgiving with her first husband was a bust since she forgot to thaw the turkey. She blundered Thanksgiving with her second husband when the foil pan she was using bent and slipped out of her hands leaving the feast on the floor. She was hoping the third time would be the charm so she called the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line to make sure she was doing everything right!
Sun-Kissed Feast…Some holiday chefs take extreme measures to please all guests. A caller was e-mailed a photo featuring a turkey with a “bikini look.” As she was entertaining guests from the Bahamas, she asked Mary Clingman, 20+ year veteran, how she could create a tropical turkey. Believe it or not, by using aluminum foil Mary suggested a way to make theturkey look like a sun goddess!
State Bird…When a Talk-Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in – meaning how thawed was it, the caller responded with “Florida.”
According to the company, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line helps more than 1 million cooks in November alone through Butterball.com, Facebook, Twitter and 1-800-BUTTERBALL.
Other lessons learned from the Talk-Line experts?
- It may sound like a good idea, but leaving your turkey outside to keep it cold, even if it's below freezing, may not be the best idea. The neighborhood critters might be a planning a party of their own and your turkey could be their guest of honor.
- Cleaning the turkey is easy – simply rinse it with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Bad news for the caller who thought cleaning the turkey with bleach would be safe and do the job, and to the woman who scrubbed her turkey with a wire brush and was left with shards of metal embedded in her turkey.
- More cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year, and more and more fires can be attributed to deep frying turkeys. Oil and water don't mix, so remember to thoroughly dry the turkey inside and out to avoid any hot oil spattering when lowering it into the oil. Placing a frozen or partially frozen turkey into the fryer can cause a spillover and may result in a fire. Reduce this risk by temporarily turning off the gas flame right before you lower the turkey into the oil. Once the turkey is safely in the fryer, turn the flame back on.