No Turkey Trouble

November 26, 2019
| Created by Melanie Taylor, MS, RDN, CD

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many are frantically shopping and preparing for this food-filled holiday. Thanksgiving is a great time to bring friends and family together around a beautifully prepared meal. The last thing you want is to make your loved ones ill from foodborne illness. Careful handling and preparation of your turkey will help ensure you keep your Thanksgiving guests safe.

1. Turkey Thawing: The countertop is NOT the place to thaw a turkey. Give your turkey 24 hours per 5 pounds to thaw in a container in the refrigerator. Store on a bottom shelf to keep juices from dripping on fresh ready-to-eat items below. Thaw time in cold water is much quicker, but requires 30 minutes per pound and the water must be refreshed every 30 minutes.

2. Turkey Handling: As you wrestle to thaw, clean, stuff, and cook that bird, be aware of the surfaces and cooking equipment it comes in contact with. Be sure to wash anything possibly contaminated, including hands, with hot soapy water.

3. Turkey Stuffing: Cooking stuffing in a separate casserole dish is the easiest way to be sure everything is thoroughly cooked. However, if your traditions have you determined on stuffing the bird, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing center reaches 165°F.

4. Turkey Roasting: A general rule of thumb is to cook your completely thawed turkey in a 325°F oven for 20 minutes per pound, but it’s crucial to check for a temperature of 165°F at the thickest part of the bird to be sure it is cooked thoroughly.

5. Turkey Tasting: After all that work, eating your perfect turkey is a delicious reward! To enjoy safe leftovers, be sure to refrigerate within 2 hours by slicing or dividing big cuts into smaller quantities for quick cooling. Reheat leftovers to at least 165°F before eating!