Turkey is the centerpiece of all Thanksgiving meals, and why wouldn’t it be? The delectable fowl is a staple in American history. Native to North America, it was relied on by Native Americans for its meat and feathers and consumed by colonists in celebration of the first harvest. Ben Franklin admired the turkey so much so that it was his bid for the national bird. Today, wild turkeys roam freely, while domesticated ones fill farms throughout the country. And every November, we buy them by the pound, prepared to eat as much as it takes to reach satiety, which is often a lot.
Most of us will consume an excess of turkey at dinner tomorrow. But our overindulgence can’t garner too much guilt, since, of all the things on the table, it’s one of the healthiest. A four ounce serving provides you with more than 65 percent of your daily recommended value for protein but only 11.9 percent of your saturated fat (red meat has twice that). What’s more, you’re ingesting a healthy dose of selenium, niacin and vitamin B6 with every bite. Combined, these nutrients help you produce energy, fight cancer and maintain regular immune and metabolic systems. Health-wise, it’s definitely a bird to give thanks for, but if you cook it incorrectly, you may not be thankful for long.
An estimated 13 percent of turkeys have salmonella in them. Improper storage, handling and cooking will add to that amount, making a post-holiday illness quite possible. To minimize the risk, store fresh birds in the fridge and frozen birds in the freezer. When you start the thawing process, do so either in the refrigerator (although this takes several days, so if you haven’t started yet, come up with a backup plan), in cold water or in the microwave. Never thaw at room temperature, and resist the urge to stuff your bird (Stuffing inside the turkey has to reach 165 degrees for safe eating, which it rarely does. So cook it separately). When you think the turkey is ready, check the temperature with a meat thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing as well as at the thickest part of the breast. The minimum acceptable temperature is 165 degrees. Once thoroughly cooked, slice the turkey on clean cutting boards with clean utensils and clean hands. Then, put the turkey away within two hours. Any longer and your leftovers will be booming with bacteria.
Follow these rules and your main dish will be a safe, healthy source of excessive gobbling.
- Image Source: http://www.tonidunlap.com/roast_turkey.htm