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COOKING TIPS: The Butterball Hotline (1.800.288.8372) & Turkey-Carving Video


Don’t thaw in the bathtub while bathing the kids.


For 10 months a year, the Butterball Hotline is an automated tip line. But for almost 30 years, live operators take over during peak turkey season, November and December, and a tidal wave of people (last year, around 100,000) phone for their advice. If we may cross over to fiction for a moment, even President Jed Bartlett called for help, in one of the more endearing scenes on “The West Wing.”

The 55 operators who staff Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line know their stuff(ing): All have degrees in home economics, food science or nutrition. While some have been on the line since its inception, newbies are trained to address every situation, from the banal but necessary (optimal size turkey to buy, thawing techniques, cooking times and temperatures, amount of stuffing needed, how to use a meat thermometer, carving knives, presentation tips and food-safety concerns) to the erratic (you’d be surprised how many people thaw the turkey in the bathwater while bathing the kids).

More recently, everyone has had to come up the curve on deep fat frying a turkey, which has become a more popular way to prepare the holiday bird. (But don’t get too excited—it’s the least healthy way to prepare a turkey.)

The hotline, 1.800.288.8372, is available 365/24/7.

  • One thing you need a visual demonstration of is carving. See a video on how to carve a turkey, from Chef Daniel Humm of one of our favorite restaurants, NYC’s Eleven Madison Park (and a James Beard Foundation Rising Chef award winner).

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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