Everyone’s had the nightmare turkey – the one that’s overcooked to point of resembling sawdust, or worse, the one that’s undercooked and leaves everyone hustling for the bathroom. No one wants their holiday off marred by a few bad bites; they want to feel like a king for a day, not the king of the porcelain throne. Follow these tips to avoid a few of the most common turkey mistakes, and keep this holiday season memorable for good reasons!
Choosing the Wrong Turkey
It’s important to check out the labels on the turkey you pick! Some turkeys are “self-basting,” which means that they’ve been pre-injected with broth-based flavorings, herbs, and spices. They may conflict with your own recipe, and they often contain a considerably more sodium.
Buying Too Much Turkey
On Thanksgiving, the philosophy of “too much is better than too little” might reign supreme, but unless you seriously underestimate how many guests you have (or their appetites), there will probably be enough turkey to go around! Feel free to opt for a turkey breast or turkey leg instead of a full turkey, too. The rule of thumb is 1 pound of turkey per guest, so in many cases, a 22-pound bird just isn’t necessary!
Stuffing a Bird
Dressing (as its called when it’s not stuffed into anything) is perfectly good without the bird, and you’re better off this way too. Cooking a stuffed turkey is complicated business. The stuffing is a potential breeding ground for all kinds of unwanted bacteria – an issue exacerbated by being stuffed into a raw turkey that doesn’t cook evenly in the oven. If you must have a stuffed bird, it’s always better to stuff it into the turkey after the turkey is already cooked.
Thawing a Turkey at Room Temperature
The recommended ways of thawing a frozen turkey are: 1) in the refrigerator, 2) under cold, running water, or 3) simply cooking it frozen. Thawing a turkey out in room temperature can allow dangerous bacteria to grow to spectacularly unwanted levels. It’s just better to be safe than to risk eating a contaminated turkey!
Roasting a Turkey Overnight
This might be the old-fashioned way of cooking a turkey, but nowadays, it’s not a good idea to roast your turkey overnight in the oven or crock pot. Cooking a whole turkey or a large turkey breast at a low temperature over a long period of time doesn’t ensure that all of the bacteria is gone and is therefore unsafe! The lowest recommendable cooking temperature for a turkey is 325 degrees Farenheit (163 degrees Celsius).
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