Adrianne O. Vidrine | 11/12/2010 3:02:41 AM
Handling Turkey Safely
With just a little over a week before Thanksgiving, today, we will take a look at proper and safe methods for handling, thawing and preparing a turkey.
Handle Turkey Safely
Thaw Turkey Safely
Never thaw turkey at room temperature!
The outside will defrost before the inside and will be a perfect place for bacteria to grow and spread. There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey.
3. Cold Water
Get Turkey Ready to Cook
Remove the neck and giblets from inside the fresh or defrosted turkey. Place them in a pan with water. Cook them on medium high heat as you prepare the turkey for roasting. Use the cooked giblets in stuffing or gravy. Refrigerate the neck bone and use it for soup. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Wash turkey inside and out with cold water. Drain well and pat dry. Season turkey inside and out.
If you stuff the turkey, do it just before you put it in the oven. Mix the stuffing just before you are ready to use it. Spoon the stuffing loosely into the turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the stuffing and cook until thermometer registers 165 F. Better yet, cook stuffing separately in a covered baking dish during the last hour while turkey roasts.
Wash hands, utensils, sink and anything else that has contacted raw turkey with hot, soapy water. Prevent foodborne illness by keeping everything clean!
Cook Turkey Safely
Know When Turkey is Done
The roasting times are a basic guide to timing. Sometimes the turkey will be ready sooner, sometimes later! This depends on many things, including how evenly your oven cooks.
The best way to know if the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. The temperature must reach 180 F. in the thigh of the whole turkey (or 165 F. in the center of the stuffing inside the turkey) before it is ready to come out of the oven. Cook a turkey breast to 170 F.
Besides checking with the thermometer and making sure the juices are clear, take a paper towel in your hand and move the leg of the turkey up and down. If it moves easily, or if the hip joint breaks, the turkey is done. Any if the meat falls off the bone easily, it is done.
If the turkey is done, take it out of the oven carefully. Let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and before carving. This makes it easier to carve.