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Stop Roasting Your Turkey to Death in the Name of Safety

woman taking a turkey out of the oven and measuring the temperature of the meat
Brent Reeves/Shutterstock

We get it, you’ve been planning your Thanksgiving feast for weeks, and the last thing you want to worry about is giving your guests food poisoning. But overcooking your Turkey isn’t necessary either.

Turkey is naturally a pretty lean bird, and the breast to leg ratio makes for cooking problems if you are hoping for an all-around moist serving. Here are a few things to know about temping your turkey and keeping it from drying out.

Get Yourself a Thermometer

Every single kitchen should have a special place for your instant-read thermometer. It’s the best way to ensure your meat is cooked to the correct amount of doneness. So many are worried about undercooking meats, and rightfully so because food poisoning is the worst. It can be life-threatening, so if there is something to worry about in the world of cooking, its foodborne illness.

If you’ve never used an instant-read thermometer, no worries, we’ll teach you how. Insert a clean thermometer into the center (thickest part) of you turkey and away from the bone or fat. The dimple on the tip can be used as a guide. Keep the thermometer in for at least 10-20 seconds or until the temperature stops rising.

Turkey Cooking Times

According to butterball, your turkey products should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When roasting a whole turkey, butterball suggests that the thigh reaches 180 degrees, the breast reaches 170 degrees, and the center of your stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t ignore that little red and white plastic insert that comes with your turkey either. Use that as a first sign that it’s well done, then check with a thermometer to be sure.

A Classic Brine Helps

Brining is merely taking any lean meat and placing it in salt dissolved water to enhance juiciness. By submerging your turkey into a brine, the muscle fibers absorb the liquid over several hours. A standard guideline is to brine your turkey for about an hour per pound.

Use Those Leftover Turkey Drippings

Once it’s time to carve the turkey, don’t forget about the beautiful and flavorful juices that are created during the cooking process. After you’ve got a plate full of sliced turkey, use a turkey baster to drizzle the beautiful natural drippings over your carved meat. This will add juiciness and flavor to every bite. Don’t forget to use the extra drippings to make a delicious gravy to add to the flavor.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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