Thanksgiving Turkey Safety Tips

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Every year hundreds of thousands of people are sickened by food poisoning and in the U.S., 5000 people die. Improper food handling is the number one cause of these illnesses and fatalities. And the holiday season is prime time for food poisoning.

Every year methods circulate about unconventional ways to cook a turkey. These are the unsafe methods that you should never use. Of course, nobody can stop you, and if you’ve used these methods before, you have free will. But please be warned: if you’re serving someone in a high risk group (the elderly, pregnant women, the very young, those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems) you are risking some unhappy holiday memories.

1- Turkey in the Crock-pot
Most food experts say that cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker is unsafe, because the low cooking temperature keeps the cavity at an ideal temperature for breeding bacteria for too long a time. The same holds true for turkey. Note that a slow cooker is not the same as a roaster oven, such as those made by Nesco.

2- Turkey Roasted Overnight
Lots of us have recipes from our mothers and grandmothers that call for roasting the turkey overnight at a temperature ranging from 200 to 250 degrees F. This is unsafe. The lowest recommended oven temperature for roasting a turkey is 325 degrees F. Once again, the long slow cooking is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. And if the turkey is stuffed the danger is even greater.

3- Turkey in the Microwave
The microwave cooks too unevenly, with hot spots and cool spots, to be safe. The largest cut of poultry that I cook in the microwave is boneless skinless chicken breasts. Don’t ever cook a turkey breast in the microwave oven.

4- Turkey Breast in the Crock-pot
There are many recipes for this method and I have always considered it to be safe, but in my research I’ve found that this method is also considered risky. If you don’t have anyone in your family in the high risk group, go ahead, unless you are serving someone at risk.

5- Deep Frying Turkey
This method produces a perfectly safe bird, but the method itself can be dangerous and has led to many fires. The Underwriter’s Laboratory has decided not to certify any turkey fryers. If you do choose to deep fry your turkey, make sure the container is large enough, and that the frying is done outside away from flammable materials (that includes your house and deck!). Keep kids and pets away and make sure the oil cools down in a safe place before disposing. Have several fire extinguishers ready and waiting.

6- Never Stuff Your Turkey the Night before
Never ever stuff your turkey until it’s ready to go into the oven. Even if the stuffing reaches a safe internal temperature, the bacteria have had plenty of time to produce toxins that are not destroyed by heat and can make you sick.

7- Thawing Turkey at Room Temperature
Again, this allows bacteria to reach truly dangerous levels. Either thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, under running cold water, or cook it frozen.

8- The Brown Paper Bag Method
Don’t cook turkey in a brown paper bag unless it is one that has been approved for food use. The chemicals used in manufacturing these bags could seep into the turkey and cause health problems.

9- The Trash Bag Method
Don’ use a trash bag to brine or marinate the turkey, for the same reason as the above. Oven roasting bags and frozen birds sold in the bags are perfectly safe.

10- Turducken
Turducken can be perfectly safe, but only if it is prepared quickly and the ingredients that aren’t being immediately used are refrigerated. Do not prepare this recipe in advance. Also do not bake the turducken at temperatures below 325 degrees F; again, overnight and long slow cooking is dangerous. And be sure that the very interior is cooked to 165 degrees F (some sources say 180 degrees F).

Thanksgiving Recipe for you

Mama’s Bread stuffing

INGREDIENTS:
¼ C. finely chopped onions

½ C. chopped celery

1/3 C. butter

4 C. bread cubed

1 tsp. pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp. salt

¼ to ½ tsp. ground sage

1 or 2 Small box of Raisins

1 grated apple

Turkey or chicken broth

DIRECTIONS
Sauté onion and celery in the butter until softened. Combine onion mixture with bread, pepper, eggs, salt, raisins, grated apple, sage and poultry seasoning in a large mixing bowl. Stir in broth until well moistened (enough for an 8 to 10-pound turkey).

Or, bake in a greased covered shallow casserole at 325° for about 35 to 45 minutes.

Take the cover off the last 5 minutes to brown.

From my Cookbook “EnRichin’ Your Kitchen”

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