Written by Karlie Baker
It's Thanksgiving, the guests are only hours away and your turkey still is frozen.
What can you do? Have no fear, the Butterball Turkey talk-line is open and ready to help.
For more than 20 years Butterball representatives have talked turkey.
The questions run the gamut, from experienced cooks simply looking for tips to make the perfect bird, to panicked hosts trying to avert disaster.
"We have many different hats that we wear," said Tara-Rose Groberski, who has worked on the turkey talk line for 10 years. "We're there to alleviate their angst. Will tell them to take a deep breath and walk them through what they have to do."
The first turkey talk line had six home economists answer 11,000 phone calls in 1981. This year more than 50 professionally trained turkey experts expect to tackle more than 100,000 questions during the month of November.
The hotline number is 1-800-288-8372. There also is plenty of information available at Butterball's web site. Butterball lists some of its most memorable calls, including:
- "A caller from Colorado wanted to store her turkey outside since it was below 40 degrees out. Well, there was a snowstorm and 10 inches of snow fell. She forgot all about her turkey and called to say she couldn’t find it!"
- "A gentleman called and told [operator Diane Jimenez] that his turkey was on fire. He asked, ‘What should I do?’ After asking him about what happened and ensuring this was not a prank call, [Jimenez] kindly answered, ‘Sir, I think you should call your local fire department.’”
- “One of [operator Alice Coffey's] most memorable calls was a man whose wife had died within the last several months, and he was making a turkey for the first time. They had a convection oven, and he had never used it. I walked him through the steps, like finding the pan that she used, as well as some very basic cooking steps. He was very appreciative. He said his kids were going to be so proud that he kept up this tradition of the Thanksgiving meal for them!”
Aside from trouble shooting, the operators are available to offer advice. For example, do you know how much turkey you need? Groberski said a good rule of thumb is 1.5 pounds per guest should ensure generous serving portions and some leftovers.
Groberski also suggests that cooks use a meat therometer. If a person is stuffing a turkey, the stuffing portion should reach 165 degrees, the turkey breast should reach 175 degrees.
The line also can provide tips on how to ensure parts of the turkey don't dry out and other cooking techniques, including how to speed thaw a turkey safely and how to, if you have no other choice, cook a frozen bird.