Turkey Tips For A Safe and Tasty Thanksgiving

Turkey will be on most people’s menus this Thursday—a delicious holiday tradition and great source of lean protein that suits nearly any diet.

To prevent kitchen-turkey catastrophes, which are more common than you may realize, here are some healthy and helpful tips for a fun, safe Thanksgiving.

Safe and Tasty Turkey Tips

Enough To Go Around. Since part of a turkey’s weight is bone, to-be-trimmed fat, and skin we should avoid eating, the USDA recommends allowing one pound of turkey per person. There will be plenty to serve, and leftovers for turkey sandwiches as well.

Thawing the Bird. If you buy your turkey frozen, keep it that way until it’s time to thaw. You can thaw it in the fridge in its original wrapper allowing 24 hours for every four to five pounds. That means a ten-pounder will take a couple days to soften. Set the turkey on a tray to catch any drips.

Or, you can thaw by submerging the bird in cold water, in its original wrapper. This takes about 30 minutes per pound, and you need to change the water every half hour. A ten-pound Tom will soften in about five hours.

After a turkey thaws, remember to take out the giblets and rinse the bird - inside and out - using cold running water.

Handle With Care. Poultry are primary sources of two common food poisoning culprits: Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria. You can stay safe by washing everything that touches the raw turkey - cutting board, utensils, counter tops, sink, and your hands - with soap and water. Anything that comes in contact with the raw bird should not touch other kitchen items to avoid cross-contamination.

Use A Thermometer. Whatever recipe or cooking method you choose, be sure to use a meat thermometer. A turkey is done when the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the bird’s inner thigh, underneath the wing, and in the thickest part of the breast. Those “pop-up” temperature buttons only indicate when the breast is ready so should not be relied on.

Cover the turkey with an aluminum foil tent and baste often to keep it moist. Begin checking for doneness about 30 minutes before the recipe indicates the turkey will be ready.

Give The Bird A Rest. Let the turkey “rest” for 20 to 30 minutes after taking it out of the oven. This increases its water holding capacity—the meat fibers relax, and the juices distribute themselves evenly throughout. A rested bird is easier to slice and will lose less fluid during carving. Rest the bird under an aluminum tent on a preheated platter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Ginny

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