Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you’re the one serving the bird, you’re probably feeling a wee bit of stress!
- To what temperature do I cook the turkey?
- Can I eat stuffing that’s been cooked in poultry?
- What do I do with leftovers?
Not to fear! Here are ways to make sure your Thanksgiving is as smooth as your mashed potatoes. Well, maybe not your mashed potatoes…
Defend against food poisoning
Nothing ruins Thanksgiving dinner faster than your grandmother blowing chunks across the table. So make sure you follow some simple safety rules this T-Day.
1. Thawing a turkey: Don’t thaw your big bird at room temperature; that just breed bacteria. Instead, thaw it in the fridge in the original wrapper in a pan (generally 1 day for every 5 pounds), or thaw it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes.
2. Stuffing the turkey: If you absolutely have to put the stuffing or dressing in the turkey (and yes, we do), then do not stuff the turkey until you are ready to cook the bird, and remove the stuffing as soon as the turkey is done.
3. Keep clean: Wash your hands after handling meat and before moving from one type of food to another. Keep counter surfaces clean, and make sure to clean up any spills immediately, especially from raw meats.
4. Oven temperature: Do not roast your turkey at a temperature lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Cooking temperature: Make sure your bird and stuffing reach at least 165 degrees (180 at the thigh) before you serve it. Juices should run clear. (And yes, sometimes the meat can still look pink, which is why checking the temperature is crucial). You must check several areas of the turkey, including the thickest part of the breast, the thigh, and the wing.
6. Leftovers: Leftovers should be promptly and properly refrigerated.
Ensure that your turkey is perfect
The turkey is the piece de resistance of a Thanksgiving feast. Here are some tips to make sure it is fabulous.
1. Let the turkey rest: Turkey can be dry as the Mojave. Let it rest for approximately 20 minutes before serving to seal in the juices.
2. Make sure there’s enough to go around: Figure at least one pound of meat per person. And don’t forget next-day turkey sandwiches.
3. Forget basting: Opening the door to baste mucks with your oven’s temperature, and it doesn’t really help keep your turkey juicy.