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Let’s talk turkey for the holidays

Your mom texted. Don’t do it.

The answer to the prank question that’s going viral, “How long do you microwave a 25-pound turkey?” is “no” for most mothers.

The digital media news and entertainment company BuzzFeed recently posted some hilarious answers to the not-so-serious question.

“Don’t ever get married,” said one mother.

“I should never let you move out,” said another.

A frantic mother told her son it could not be done and to call her immediately.

“Call me NOW!,” she yelled by text. “It will explode in there and break the micro. Listen to me. I know what I’m talking about and it will be like shoe leather.”

After hearing that his roommate said it tasted good so far, his mother had a conniption fit.

“How long has it been in there??” she asked, using two question marks for good measure. “It has to be cooked to 165 degrees temperature or you all will probably get salmonella poisoning! The whole bird. 165!”

One calm mom suggested her son buy a cooked chicken.

“It’s about the gathering, not what you serve,” she texted him back.

At least one of these mothers is correct.

Turkeys should be cooked to at least 165 degrees, say poultry experts from Butterball, US Department of Agriculture and the Mississippi State Department of Health. Check with a meat thermometer in three places — the thickest part of the bird, innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh.

For more than 30 years, the professionally trained turkey experts that make up the Turkey Talk-Line have been answering turkey related questions each holiday season. The turkey talkers have answered more than 100,000 questions for thousands of households around the United States and Canada.

The Turkey Talk-Line, 1-800-BUTTERBALL, is open today until 10 p.m. and Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If the turkey wasn’t thawed in time and you’re baking the bird Friday, the hotline is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

So, can you microwave a turkey?

Surprisingly, the moms were wrong. Butterball’s experts say microwaving a turkey is totally feasible and even safe.

A 25-pound turkey is likely going to be too big to fit inside any conventional microwave, however, a smaller bird that will adequately feed a few friends in a tiny first apartment or dorm room can be done and here’s how:

• Thaw the turkey first. Never put a frozen turkey in the microwave.

• Place the turkey breast side down on a microwave-safe dish or plate.

• First, microwave it for 4 minutes per pound on full power — 36 minutes for a 9-pound turkey — to get the cooking process started. After this initial cook time, the rest of the cooking needs to be on a lower power setting.

• Remove the drippings and baste the partially-cooked turkey so it begins to get that golden-brown skin.

• Flip the turkey over and cook it at 50 percent power for 8 minutes per pound (72 minutes total). Stop cooking every 18 minutes to check the turkey’s temperature with a meat thermometer and baste it with the natural juices or a browning sauce.

When the turkey reaches a temperature of 180 to 185 degrees in the thigh and 170 to 175 degrees in the breast, it is ready and safe to eat.

• Baste the turkey once more before serving.

Whether you microwave, roast or deep fry, some Mississippi experts offer words of wisdom about preparing and handling poultry to prevent food-borne illnesses.

MSDH say avoid cross-contamination and be sure to cool foods properly. Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw poultry (or meat and seafood, either).

MSDH recommends cooking dressing separately from the turkey. After cooking both the dressing and the turkey, the dressing can be stuffed in the bird. That, technically, then changes the dressing to stuffing.

Wash your hands often, before and after handling food. Wash surfaces, too. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

If you’re reading this and your buying a frozen turkey, you need to thaw it quickly and safely.

The water submersion method is your best bet, said Latoya Evans, the Family and Consumer Science agent at Mississippi State Extension Service.

Submerge the turkey in water and change it out every 30 minutes to keep the surface cold. A 4 -12 pound turkey should be two to six hours to thaw, she said.

According to the USDA, it’s safe to cook a frozen turkey though cooking time will need to be 50 percent longer.

For more information, call the Turkey Talk-Line, 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372), USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or visit www.askkaren.gov or www.foodsafety.gov.