Today’s the day. Amid the comings and goings of family and friends, potatoes and pies, your main job is to make sure that bird gets cooked.
If you’re stuffing the turkey, mix the wet and dry ingredients just before stuffing the bird. Don’t let it sit around. Make sure the stuffing is good and moist, because the USDA says that heat destroys bacteria more quickly in a moist environment. Plus, dry stuffing will dry out the meat!
Cook your bird in at least a 325-degree oven until both the meat and stuffing reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your trusty food thermometer and check the stuffing, innermost part of the thigh, and thickest part of the breast.
Once it has reached that magic temp, take it out of the oven, let it stand 20 minutes, and you’re good to go. Unstuff, carve and enjoy.
After dinner, even as the tryptophan lulls you toward sleep, get up and get those leftovers taken care of. Refrigerate turkey and stuffing separately, in shallow containers, within 2 hours of cooking. Freeze anything you’re not going to use within 3-4 days (and honestly, if you’ve done your job well the leftovers won’t last that long).
Need help? You can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (888-674-6854) from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time. And you can get advice any time at www.askkaren.gov.
Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving!