If you have the honor of cooking the turkey for the first time this year or even if you are a seasoned veteran there is always potential for something to go wrong. No matter what your experience level is, here are a few helpful suggestions to help you through what’s sure to be a busy day.
Have a Reserved Space in the Kitchen for Anything Touching Raw Poultry: According to the CDC, Salmonella accounts for 11% of all reported foodborne illnesses in the country infecting 1,027,561 people every year. The leading cause of these infections? Poultry. Be sure to clean everything that has been in contact with the raw bird.
Clean as You Go: Of course clean up after the turkey mess, but also clean up any food spills right away. Not only does this make clean up a breeze, but it also limits places for harmful germs to grow.
Make sure to start the day with a clean kitchen: This goes along with the last tip, but is also important. A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen!
Frying a turkey: Make sure it is thawed and dry (The National Turkey Federation recommends at least 24 hours of thawing for every 5 pounds). The fryer should be set well away from any structure including decks. Never leave a fryer unattended. Also have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies.
Keep Children and Pets Out of the Kitchen if Possible: Not only can they get hurt, they can also spread germs.
Have Separate Cutting boards for Meats and Vegetables: Germs on a piece of meat could end up embedded in the cutting board. Slicing vegetables later in the day could spread them since many will end up in a raw salad, they won’t be exposed to the heat needed to kill the germs.
Cook to Proper Temperature: The rule for cooking turkeys is 13 minutes a pound. Make sure to factor in the extra weight stuffing adds when calculating cooking time.
Put away leftovers: I know it’s tempting to throw in the towel once you sit down for dinner, but at least put away all the food that needs to be in the fridge so it stays at a safe temperature. Also separate large portions into smaller dishes so they cool more evenly.
Don’t Put Any Sharp Objects in the Sink: These can easily get lost in the sea of dishes; clean them on the spot and set them aside.
Don’t Leave Any Pot Handles Sticking Out: Use the back burners when possible to avoid spills and serious burns.