You may have heard about the dangers of stuffing a turkey. When it comes to food safety, stuffed turkey gets a bad rep, even though it’s been tradition for centuries. That being said, nobody wants to mess with undercooked poultry, particularly when you’re having several dozen extended family members over. But is stuffing a turkey actually dangerous? The short answer: it can be. Luckily, we’ve got some helpful tips and tricks to make stuffing a turkey safe and delicious.
1. Thawing the Turkey
It’s very important to thaw the turkey well before stuffing and cooking it. Many turkeys are sold frozen, and almost all turkeys are flash-frozen before being sold in the United States. Be sure to follow safe procedure to thaw a turkey safely. Only when the turkey is thawed should you begin to stuff it.
2. Stuff the Turkey Last-Minute
Most people’s worries when it comes to cooking a stuffed turkey is that the stuffing will absorb too much liquid and not come up to the same temperature as the turkey, therefore making the stuffing under-cooked when the turkey is cooked, or the turkey over-cooked when the stuffing reaches the right temperature. To avoid this, stuff the turkey with warm stuffing — not hot — just before beginning to roast. The turkey will start off with a warmer core temperature, and the stuffing will reach the right internal temperature more quickly, killing any remaining bacteria.
3. When in Doubt, Take its Temperature
As with cooking poultry, when in doubt, check the temperature of the stuffing. Simply insert a probe thermometer into the core of the stuffing. The thermometer should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the same safety rules for poultry when handling stuffing that has come into contact with raw turkey.
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