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Butterball hotline expert recalls one of the silliest questions ever

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Cooking a turkey is tricky, but it doesn’t have to be so hard.

Since 1981, countless confused cooks have called up the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line with concerns about thawing, basting or cooking their turkeys. So naturally, the experts at the hotline have fielded just about every question you could think of.

“We’re here for you and [for] Thanksgiving to be fabulous,” Butterball Turkey Talk-Line expert Karen Wilcher told Nexstar’s WRIC. “We’ve all been certified and all graduated from Butterball University.”

Wilcher welcomes all callers and says there’s no such thing as a dumb question — but she’s had some funny ones, like a call from a dad who wanted a shortcut to thaw his turkey.

The preferred method for defrosting a frozen turkey, Wilcher says, is to place it in the refrigerator days ahead of time, allowing one day in the fridge for every four pounds of turkey.

But there’s a quicker way — the water bath method — that can speed things up.

“You just simply keep the turkey in its original wrapper and you’re going to thaw it using cold water, changing the water frequently,” said Wilcher, who explains that the turkey should be kept in this bath for several hours — around 30 minutes for every pound.

The dad who called, however, was looking for an even more convenient solution.

“His job was to get the turkey thawed using our water bath method,” remembers Wilcher. “Well, he also knew he was supposed to take care of getting the kids a bath. So, you know, he was thinking — turkey, water bath, kids, bath — perhaps I could put those together?

“Not a great idea!” Wilcher recalls.

No matter how the bird is thawed (and as long as it’s thoroughly thawed), Wilcher reminds all callers to fully cook their birds to at least 164° in the center of the stuffing, and 180° in the thigh.

And after placing it out on the table, don’t leave it there all day.

“You have two hours that you need to get that turkey served and eaten. And if not, you need to put it away in the refrigerator,” said the 10-year Turkey Talk-Line veteran.

Anyone with questions for a Butterball Turkey Talk-Line expert like Wilcher can reach a trained chef, dietitian or homemaker via the phone, text, or online chat. This year’s hotline operates through Nov. 25 before resuming operations between Nov. 28 and Christmas Eve.

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