(CBS Local)-- Thanksgiving is right around the corner and many families across the country are wrestling with their plans for the holiday and what to make for the big Turkey Day meal. With many not deciding to travel for Thanksgiving because of COVID-19, that means that lots of people will be making big holiday dinner for the first time.
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CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith recently spoke to the Nicole Behne, the VP of Marketing for Jennie-O to discuss the keys to making a juicy turkey, the best sides to pair with your meal and the resources that are available for first time Thanksgiving cooks.
"We think there will be a lot of people cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time," said Behne. "Jennie-O has them covered from prepping ahead of time all the way through when they are ready to throw the turkey in the oven. If folks go to our website, they can see how much turkey they need, how far in advance they need to take the turkey out to thaw it and how long to cook the turkey."
There is a live chat available on the Jennie-O website for anyone who has questions about how to prepare their Thanksgiving meals and also a 1-800-Turkeys hotline to call. Behne says one of the most consistent questions they've gotten from people so far is how long to cook the turkey.
"First I would say follow the instructions on the bag, but second go out and buy yourself a meat thermometer," said Behne. "A lot of the turkeys have the pop up timers and that is great, but I like to be absolutely certain that my turkey is 165 degrees in the thickest part of that turkey. The second question we get is how long do you thaw the frozen turkey. I like to tell people to take it out on Monday and it will be ready to cook on Thursday. Take it out of the freezer, put it in the refrigerator on Monday and on Thursday you will be ready to cook your turkey."
If texting is your preferred method of communication, you can text the word Turkey to 73876 and a specialist will answer your questions. In addition to the turkey, one of the best parts of any Thanksgiving meal is the sides to go along with the bird and the leftovers that you'll have for the next few days.
"People today seem like they are more okay with exploring new recipes than they have been in the past. I think part of that is because we have all been in quarantine and are a little bit more comfortable in the kitchen," said Behne. "Now is the time for people to take on new recipes and try new things. The leftovers are endless, the sandwiches are the number one way that people use leftover turkey. I love creamy pasta dishes that you incorporate with by dicing the turkey and putting it into those other dishes. The other one that is delicious is stuffed peppers. Typically you use a ground turkey in stuffed peppers, but you can take your leftover thanksgiving turkey and dice it up and put that in stuffed peppers as well."
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