In this often over-informed age we live in, there is now a more accurate and appropriate way to prepare the big bird for your Thanksgiving dinner. No matter what your mother or grandmother told you about cooking a turkey, all of that is now incorrect and a health hazard. As a child, I remember being taught how to clean the sink and then place the turkey in it. First, we would remove the neck and bag of organs from its cavity, then use tweezers to pull out the remaining pinfeathers from the skin. Next, salt would be poured inside and outside of the bird and rubbed on the turkey to clean it. Then, we would carefully rinse the turkey, stuff it, and then sew it up. Today, that procedure is considered to be a major health hazard, for many reasons. The term cross-contamination is the warning of the day. It is correct for you to wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds), but not the bird. Washing the turkey will not remove bacteria on the skin, and it will increase your chances of contaminating the area around the sink if you splash or spray the water, which can spread bacteria up to three feet away. If other non-baked foods are near the sink, it can contaminate them, as well. Yes that makes sense, but I did chuckle when I read that the water could spray three feet – I envisioned a turkey in a car wash. But seriously, it is important to follow the new procedures, especially if you are a novice at preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. In regards to stuffing the turkey – no, nein, nada, no way! That is a definite statement. Stuffing the bird carries the risk of adsorbing more than the flavored juices from the turkey – it can also soak up and store bacteria. To make sure the stuffing is safe to eat you would have to overcook the bird. So, instead of the turkey juices, use some stock to moisten the stuffing and cook it separately. And finally, as if all this new information is not enough, it is very important to use a cooking thermometer to make sure the turkey is at least 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh (the old technique of shaking the turkey leg to see if it is done is sadly outdated). With all of this said, please enjoy your day and have a safe and sane Thanksgiving!
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.