Safe Holiday Meals

It is very important to completely thaw a frozen turkey before cooking.  A turkey should never be thawed at room temperature.  Wash your hands before any food preparation.  

Thawing a Turkey:

  • Best Method:  On a plate under refrigeration – which can take over 3 days (5 hours per pound).
  • Alternative Method:  Place the turkey in a large pot in the kitchen sink and continuously run water cooler than 70°F over the bird. The turkey needs to be totally submerged in the water and the sink drain cannot be plugged, so excess water, as it runs over the side of the pot, goes down the drain.

Note:  Stuffing turkeys is not recommended due to concern of bacteria. 

Immediately upon thawing:

  1. Place turkey in preheated oven.
  2. Sanitize all surfaces that the turkey might have come in contact with during any of the preparation.  Putting ½ teaspoon bleach in one-gallon water will create a sanitizing solution.  Be sure to wash and sanitize your hands as well. 
  3. Cook the turkey until temperature in deepest part is 165°F minimum. Do not touch bone with thermometer as the temperature reading may become inaccurate. The recommended type of thermometer to use is a dial faced, probe type thermometer that has delineation for every 2°F. The temperature range should go from 0°F to 220°F on the face. In this way, both cold and hot food temperatures can be monitored. These types of thermometers can be found at a relatively low cost usually at your local grocery or discount store.
  4. Foods being held for service should be maintained at or above 140°F.

Note:  If you stuffed the turkey anyway, once turkey is cooked & over the minimum temperature requirement, all of the stuffing needs to be removed immediately upon taking the turkey from the oven. 

Leftovers:

Do not leave food sitting on counter, it must be refrigerated within two hours of cooking.  Food should not be stored in a container deeper than 4" & should be left uncovered until the food is cold, but must be refrigerated within two hours of first serving.       

Leftovers should be reheated to a minimum of 165°F.

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