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Turkey - To Stuff or Not To Stuff?

Feeling unsure about the safety of stuffing a turkey? Follow a few simple precautions in preparation and you've nothing to fear.

Generations of Americans have been enjoying turkeys, be they stuffed or unstuffed, since the first Pilgrim roasted the bird. Turkey is the most served entrée of the annual Thanksgiving holiday feast...and the tradition is still going strong.

Whether you choose to stuff your turkey or bake the stuffing in a casserole dish is a matter of personal preference. As with any food preparation involving raw food ingredients, it's important to carefully follow proper food safety and handling procedures to ensure a safe turkey every time.

For those who choose to stuff their turkey, the following guidelines are recommended according to the turkey experts at Butterball:

  • Prepare stuffing just before placing in turkey.
  • Use only cooked ingredients in stuffing --sautéed vegetables, use only cooked meats and seafood (oysters) and use pasteurized egg products instead of raw eggs.
  • Place prepared stuffing in turkey just before roasting. Do not stuff the turkey the night before roasting.
  • Stuff both neck and body cavities of a completely thawed turkey, allowing 1/2 to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Do not pack stuffing tightly in turkey.
  • Always use a meat thermometer. The turkey is done when the thigh temperature reaches 180°F (80°C) on a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh next to body, not touching bone. Move the meat thermometer to the center of stuffing; temperature should be 160°F to 165°F (70°C to 75°C). When the stuffed turkey is done, remove turkey from oven and let turkey with stuffing stand 15 to 20 minutes. This stand time provides an added measure of safety for stuffing temperature to reach 165°F (75°C).

So go ahead and stuff that holiday bird (my personal preference), taking care to follow the recommended safety guidelines, and enjoy a much more flavorful stuffing.


Copyright © 1999 Hope Pryor; property of CooksRecipes.com.

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