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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey FAQ's

There are lots of Frequently Asked Questions about cooking turkeys.  Here are some that may interest you.
Is it dangerous to roast a turkey in a disposable aluminum pan?
The danger is in getting burned while removing a flimsy disposable aluminum pan full of hot turkey from a hot oven. Unless handled carefully, it could buckle under the weight of the turkey, sending everything smashing to the floor. Use a sturdy roasting pan. There needs to be 2 to 3 inches of air space all around your pan—a little more for grabbing handles easily. You could then put the disposable roasting pan inside this sturdy pan.
How often should the turkey be basted?
The purpose of basting is to produce a golden brown, crispy skin. Basting does not produce moisture or otherwise improve the flavor of the interior turkey. You also lose oven heat by opening the door too often to baste. Heat loss will only increase roasting time so keep the basting to a minimum, during the last hour of cooking.
Why is turkey meat (and chicken) sometimes pink close to the bone, even when it is fully cooked to 165 degrees or higher?
Very young turkeys (and chickens) have immature porous bones, which may allow red pigmentation (hemoglobin) to leach out into the meat. Smoking and grilling can also cause this reaction. If the bird is fully cooked (165 degrees and juices run clear) and meat around the bones is still pink, it is not unsafe to eat.
A whole turkey and turkey parts are safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
How long can I keep leftover turkey in the freezer?
Leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy should be used within one month after freezing. Use freezer wrap or freezer containers. Proper packaging is important to the success of frozen leftovers. Use heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper, or zip-closure freezer bags for best results. Do not leave air space. Squeeze excess air from freezer bags and fill rigid freezer containers to the top with dry foods. Leave one-inch headspace in containers with liquid and 1/2-inch in containers with semisolids. Don't forget to label and date packages and use the oldest ones first.
Happy Thanksgiving!