Problem: Frozen Turkey
It’s 10 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Dinner is at 2 p.m. And the turkey, which has been thawing for days in the refrigerator, still feels frozen solid.
Give the bird a cold bath. Water is a much better conductor of heat than air in the refrigerator, so this method works faster, says Robert L. Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of What Einstein Told His Cook 2 ($26, amazon.com). Fill a large bucket or the kitchen sink with cool water and plunge the bird in, in the original wrapper, breast-side down.
If the turkey has been defrosting in the refrigerator for several days, a mere half hour may do the trick. If you need to defrost a fully frozen turkey on the double, allow half an hour per pound. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises changing the water every 30 minutes or so. (Birds labeled “fresh” can be chilled to 26° F, which explains why such turkeys can unexpectedly turn out to be partially frozen. The USDA suggests that you buy a fresh turkey no more than 2 days before you roast it.) No matter how dire the situation, don’t thaw a turkey at room temperature.
If it’s early in the week and there’s no rush, thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. Keep it in the original packaging, and place it on a rimmed container to catch any juices, allowing approximately 5 hours per pound.