The Four Safety Tips for Preparing a Thanksgiving Turkey
Every year, we come together with family to celebrate the things, the moments, and the people that we are most thankful for. And if you’re the chef in the kitchen, the one thing you’ll be most thankful for at the end of the meal and the end of the day, was a safe, excellent-tasting meal that hit the spot and brought the family closer together.
But preparing a Thanksgiving turkey isn’t as easy as pulling a turkey out of the freezer and stuffing it in the oven for a few hours, though a good chef may make it seem that way. There are four major safety factors that come into play when preparing your holiday bird that every Thanksgiving dinner host must take into account to make the meal right from the start.
- Turkey Safety Tip #1: Thaw safely. Did you know that there are safety regulations for thawing a turkey before cooking? If you didn’t, it’s time to get acquainted. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), turkeys begin to grow bacteria that cause food poisoning between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To keep your bird safe, defrost in the refrigerator over several days, in a tub of consistently cold water, or in the microwave.
- Turkey Safety Tip #2: Keep the work area, and yourself, clean and safe. Raw meats are covered in bacteria that can be spread to other foods and surfaces quite easily in the kitchen. Finish working with your turkey, then thoroughly clean your surfaces, utensils, and hands, and change your apron before moving on to other dishes.
- Turkey Safety Tip #3: Think about your stuffing. If you can, prepare your stuffing completely outside of your turkey and add it to the bird only after the turkey is completely finished cooking. If that won’t work, double-check the temperature for a hot 165 degrees in the middle of the stuffing.
- Turkey Safety Tip #4: Make safe cooking your number one priority. Roasting a turkey is a delicate process that requires finesse. Don’t start your turkey until it is completely unthawed. Roast at no less than 325 degrees and never eat or serve a turkey that couldn’t sustain an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Remember, as the Thanksgiving dinner host and chef, it’s up to you to make the meal not only delicious and memorable, but also safe!