Kevin Takei, the chef de cuisine at St. Matthew’s House, offers answers to those question we who plan turkey dinners need:
TO RINSE OR NOT TO RINSE?
Many of us learned from our parents that you always rinse the turkey before you cook it, but the FDA actually warns against it. Here’s some wisdom from Takei: “It is best not to rinse your turkey. If salmonella is present, rinsing it is completely ineffective. The only ways to kill salmonella are chemicals and heat. The best way is to heat it to 165° Fahrenheit, which will kill nearly all microbes. The other reason not to rinse is cross-contamination. Water splashes and spreads harmful bacteria with every droplet.”
So, go straight from package to pan with your turkey.
FRESH OR FROZEN?
At this point, fresh is going to be best. A frozen turkey will take, depending on size, about three days to safely defrost in the refrigerator. If you haven’t bought your turkey yet, buy fresh.
If your Uncle Joe started talking politics and before you knew it, you left your turkey in two hours too long what can you do? According to Takei, not much.
“There is no way to use overcooked turkey for the dinner that day, but you could use it for other things,” Takei said, suggesting that maybe saving it for a turkey salad, casserole or crepe may work. “The trick is to add more moisture — fat is the best and most flavorful way) — like mayonnaise, cream, yogurt, sour cream or cream cheese.” Our suggestion, however, would be to just avoid politics next time.
TO STUFF OR NOT
Finally, in Takei’s eyes, there is no greater Thanksgiving food-sin than overcooked turkey. He blames this mostly on people cooking their birds stuffed.
“Everyone stuffs their turkey. Bad idea. I know the stuffing comes out great, but by the time the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, the breast is always over cooked and usually the legs are, too.” Want Takei to bring his cooking chops to your house? While he’s all booked up for Thanksgiving, the St. Matthew’s House Catering Department would be more than happy to help with your holiday party. You can call to book at 239-298-5028.