With everyone’s favorite meal right around the corner it’s important to make sure you don’t ruin the holiday fun with a clumsy kitchen mishap. Thanksgiving can be quite the hectic kitchen adventure so it’s a good idea to take some extra precautions to make sure that everything goes smoothly and you don’t end up with a fiery inferno where your turkey once was. Here we’ll look at some basic ways to make sure that you avoid a kitchen disaster this Thanksgiving.
The cornerstone of every Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey and certainly not something to be trifled with. While there are a myriad of ways to cook a turkey there are still some basic preparation precautions to ensure that your holiday fowl won’t spread illness to your guests. The basic motto to remember for your turkey is safe thawing, safe preparation, safe stuffing, and safe cooking.
Foodborne bacteria have a general ‘danger zone’ between 40 and 140 degrees F. At this temperature any bacteria present with multiply and spread rapidly. For this reason it’s advisable not to thaw your turkey on the counter or out in the open. In general there are three safe ways to thaw your turkey. These are: in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40 degrees F, in cold water, or using a microwave oven. By adhering to these basic guidelines you can reduce the chance of food sickness ruining Thanksgiving.
While preparing a turkey or any raw poultry it’s important to treat it as a ‘contaminated’ substance. What this means that that anything that touches your turkey while it’s still raw has the potential to spread bacteria. This means your hands, any utensils, plates, or bowls need to be thoroughly washed before they can be put to other use. By doing this you can avoid any cross contamination and keep your guests healthy and happy.
While the safest option for stuffing is to cook it before hand and place it in the turkey this isn’t always a popular option. If you’d like to cook the stuffing in the turkey be sure to place it inside only immediately before placing the turkey in the oven. Once inside, it’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the stuffing to make sure no bacteria will survive. The minimum temperature necessary to kill bacteria is 165 degrees F. Monitor the turkey while it’s cooking to make sure that the stuffing reaches this threshold.
Finally, it’s time to cook the turkey. To do so safely it’s important to use a minimum oven temperature of 325 degrees F. Be sure that the turkey is completely thawed before putting it in the oven. While cooking it’s important to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey with a cooking thermometer. Same as the stuffing the minimum temperature advisable is 165 degrees F. Be sure to check the meatier portions to make sure this temperature is entirely pervasive. Once you remove the turkey from the oven be sure to wait at least 20 minutes for it to cool before carving.
Lastly, enjoy. If all goes according to plan you can be thankful for an incident free Thanksgiving and no food poisoning.