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					            United States Department of Agriculture
            Food Safety and Inspection Service

Food Safety Information

                            Turkey Basics: Safe Cooking
A food thermometer should be              2. Be sure the turkey is                 The temperature of the turkey and
used to ensure a safe minimum             completely thawed. Times are             the center of the stuffing must reach
internal temperature of 165 °F            based on fresh or thawed birds at        a safe minimum internal temperature
has been reached to destroy               a refrigerator temperature of 40 °F      of 165 °F. Check the temperature in
bacteria and prevent foodborne            or below.                                the innermost part of the thigh and
illness.                                                                           wing and the thickest part of the
                                          3. Place turkey breast-side up           breast.
Many variables can affect the             on a flat wire rack in a shallow
roasting time of a whole turkey:          roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches           6. Let the bird stand 20 minutes
                                          deep.                                    before removing stuffing and
•   A partially frozen turkey                Optional steps:                       carving.
    requires longer cooking.              • Tuck wing tips back under
•   A stuffed turkey takes longer            shoulders of bird (called             APPROXIMATE COOKING TIMES
    to cook.                                 “akimbo”).                               (325 °F oven temperature)
•   The oven may heat food                • Add one-half cup water to the
    unevenly.                                bottom of the pan.                        UNSTUFFED (time in hours)
•   Temperature of the oven               • In the beginning, a tent of             4 to 6 lb breast........ ..1 1/2 to 2 1/4
    may be inaccurate.                       aluminum foil may be placed            6 to 8 lb breast....... ...2 1/4 to 3 1/4
•   Dark roasting pans cook                  loosely over the breast of the
                                                                                    8 to 12 lbs.......................2 3/4 to 3
    faster than shiny metals.                 turkey for the first 1 to 1 1/2
                                                                                   12 to 14 lbs......................3 to 3 3/4
•   The depth and size of the pan            hours, then removed for brown-
                                                                                   14 to 18 lbs................3 3/4 to 4 1/4
    can reduce heat circulation to            ing. Or, a tent of foil may be
                                                                                   18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 1/2
    all areas of the turkey.                 placed over the turkey after the
•   The use of a foil tent for the                                                 20 to 24 lbs......................4 1/2 to 5
                                             turkey has reached the desired
    entire time can slow cooking.            golden brown color.
•   Use of the roasting pan’s lid                                                        STUFFED (time in hours)
    speeds cooking.                       4. For optimum safety, cook               8 to 12 lbs.......................3 to 3 1/2
•   An oven cooking bag can               stuffing in a casserole. If stuffing     12 to 14 lbs......................3 1/2 to 4
    accelerate cooking time.              your turkey, mix ingredients just        14 to 18 lbs......................4 to 4 1/4
•   The rack position can have an         before stuffing it; stuff loosely.       18 to 20 lbs................4 1/4 to 4 3/4
    affect on even cooking and            Additional time is required for the      20 to 24 lbs................4 3/4 to 5 1/4
    heat circulation.                     turkey and stuffing to reach a safe
•   A turkey or its pan may be too        minimum internal temperature (see           More Ways to Cook a Turkey
    large for the oven, thus              chart).
    blocking heat circulation.                                                     For other cooking methods, read the
                                          5. For safety and doneness,              publication “Turkey: Alternate Routes
ROASTING                                  the internal temperature                 to the Table” at www.fsis.usda.gov/
INSTRUCTIONS                              should be checked with a food            Fact_Sheets/Turkey_Alt_Routes/
                                          thermometer.                             index.asp.
1. Set the oven temperature no
lower than 325 °F. Preheating is
not necessary.

                      Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline                         AskKaren.gov
                                   1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)                For automated
                       Year-round Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.               responses via the
                      to 4 p.m. ET (English or Spanish). Recorded food             Internet 24 hours
                         safety messages are available 24 hours a day.             a day and a live
                                                                                   chat during
                Send E-mail questions to MPHotline.fsis@usda.gov.                  Hotline hours.

FSIS encourages the reprint and distribution of this publication for food safety          The USDA is an equal opportunity
education purposes. However, USDA symbols or logos may not be used separately to                   provider and employer.
imply endorsement of a commercial product or service.                                           Reviewed September 2011

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