Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keep Your Thanksgiving From Going Fowl

Family and food have always been the cornerstone of my Thanksgiving celebrations, and I am sure it is the same with you. My family has a great tradition. Each year I plan a themed menu. I put together an entire meal of recipes using the theme in every course. The recipes are divided up amongst my siblings, and on Thanksgiving we gather at my home and share our creations. One year, the theme was apples and another it was root vegetables. This year’s theme is Italian American. This tradition of themed menus has kept my family’s Thanksgivings interesting year after year, so I thought I’d share the idea with you.

However, none of these celebrations would have been much fun if, because of unsafe food handling, we all got sick. So, here are some food safety tips you can follow to help you make the most of this holiday season:

  • Thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Allow one day for each five pounds of turkey. A twenty-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw. Hint: Remove neck & giblets from inside the bird as soon as possible to hasten thawing.
  • Do not let any juices from the turkey come into contact with any other food.
  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw poultry.
  • Wash all knives, cutting boards and utensils also after using for raw poultry.
  • Cook fresh turkeys within two days, thawed ones within four days.
  • Never slow-cook poultry overnight.
  • Use a meat thermometer that is set for an internal temperature of 165°. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to “rest” for 20 minutes before slicing.
  • If you are traveling with food, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Wrap hot foods in foil and heavy towels to keep it above 140°. Keep cold food in a cooler with ice packs to maintain 40° or below.
  • Promptly refrigerate leftovers in shallow platters instead of one large container. Remove the turkey from the bone to help it cool quicker.
  • Reheat any leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°. Gravy should be brought to a rolling boil.
  • Be sure to use up your leftovers within four days.
If you have any questions about food safety or need more details about my tips, just leave a note on the blog and I’ll get back to you.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and remind you that Eat’n Park is closed Thanksgiving Day. But, all of our locations will be open bright and early Friday morning so we can all grab breakfast before hitting those sales!

Until next time,
Regis

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2 comments:

David said...

Thanks for all of the great ideas and important safty tips!

I was just wondering, I know you shouldn't cook a turkey with the trimmings and stuffing inside as is popular with most families, my own included. I was wonder what temperature I should bring the stuffing to after removing it from the bird if I should decide to cook it inside the turkey.

I believe it is 165, but I'm not sure. I know you can also cook it with the oven bag to avoid this extra cooking step, but I enjoy the flavour the turkey adds to the stuffing, so I don't mind re-baking.

Eat'n Park said...

Greetings Dave,

Great question. There is no doubt that stuffing baked inside a turkey has a great added flavor, but there are safety concerns. Whether you bake the stuffing alone or inside the bird, you must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. The safety issue is people only take the temperature of the bird or rely on the little pop-up thingy. If the bird is at 165, I can guarantee that the stuffing is nowhere near that. The other problem is a quality issue. If you cook the stuffing to 165, the bird will be over-cooked and dry. What to do?

The simplest thing to do is use the gizzards as part of the stuffing to get the added turkey flavor. There is another option that is messy. Cook the bird half way. Prepare your stuffing, making sure you are at 165. Use a solid shortening measuring cup to insert the hot stuffing into the half cooked bird. The measuring cup has a large opening and acts like a plunger. Your stuffing will be at a safe temperature and the turkey will not be overcooked.

Good luck and have a great Thanksgiving.

Regis


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