July 25, 2024

Serve Safe Turkey and Stuffing This Holiday Season

During the holidays, one of the most often prepared recipes is turkey and stuffing. This tradition is delicious, but fraught with potential problems, especially for beginning cooks. Clemson University offers tips on how to prepare this type of recipe and how to serve safe turkey and stuffing.

Serve Safe Turkey and Stuffing This Holiday Season

Most food safety experts recommend that you do not stuff your turkey. If the stuffing isn’t completely cooked to 165°F it can contain live pathogenic bacteria, since the turkey acts as an insulator and it’s difficult to heat the stuffing in the very center.

This may disappoint people, since stuffing cooked inside the bird is moist and well flavored from the turkey itself. But you can replicate that taste and texture by simply drizzling turkey stock over the dressing in a casserole, and covering it in the oven.

You can make parts of your stuffing ahead of time, but never make the entire recipe until right before it’s cooked. You can assemble the dry ingredients, such as the bread and seasonings, and the wet ingredients, such as broth, melted butter, and cooked veggies, separately, then combine them just before you pop the casserole in the oven.

Use only cooked ingredients to make stuffing. Never add raw meats such as ground turkey or raw oysters, to a stuffing recipe. And if you use eggs, it’s best to use pasteurized liquid eggs instead of shell eggs, which can contain Salmonella.

It’s also important to know that a moist stuffing is better than a dry one, since the moisture means heat will travel through the mixture more easily and evenly, increasing the odds that all the bacteria will be destroyed.

If you do choose to stuff the turkey, stuff it loosely in the neck and the body cavities. Use about 3/4 cup of stuffing for every pound of turkey. And never stuff the turkey ahead of time. Do this right before it goes into the oven.

Finally, cook the turkey and stuffing to a safe final internal temperature. Both should reach 165°F, and check that temperature with a good food thermometer. Take the stuffing out after a 10 to 15 minute wait time, then carve the bird and dig in.


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