Think you have all the facts straight on how to break out the big bird every holiday season? You might be harboring some common misconceptions. Here are a few turkey myths and facts to help you out:
Myth: It’s Cool if You Thaw Your Turkey on the Counter
Fact: It is absolutely un-cool to thaw your turkey on the counter. You need to keep your turkey below 40 degrees at all times to inhibit bacteria growth.
Myth: Stuffing is Best Cooked Inside the Turkey
Fact: Back to bacteria problems, I don’t care how much Grandma swears she never got anyone sick in her day, cooking your stuffing in the bird puts everyone at risk of food poisoning. That’s because by the time the raw turkey juices cook through at the center of your stuffing, the bird itself is way overdone.
Myth: Turkey Makes You Nappy
Fact: You’re gonna have to blame something else for that impromptu snooze in front of the TV. The truth is, turkey doesn’t contain any more tryptophan (the alleged culprit) than other kinds of poultry. Compared to chicken, turkey actually has slightly less tryptophan, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman and author of “The Flexitarian Diet.”
Myth: You Gotta Rinse Your Turkey Before You Cook It
Fact: This is an old wives tale and you definitely should not rinse your turkey before cooking it. It’s not necessary for one, and it actually helps spread salmonella and other bacteria all over your sink and kitchen.
Myth: You Can Roast Turkey Fine Without a Rack
Fact: Using a rack to prop up your bird will help it cook more evenly by allowing air to flow around it. A rack also helps prevent the underside from burning and sticking to the pan. If yours comes with an insert, you can use it to make better roast chicken, too.
Myth: You Don’t Need to Truss Your Bird
Fact: Tying the legs together after prepping your turkey will help your turkey cook through evenly. So, be sure to break out that twine before cooking your bird.
Myth: You Can Trust the Pop-Up Thermometer
Fact: These little pieces of plastic stuck in store-bought turkeys are rarely accurate, and when they are, they’re set to 180 degrees—which means your turkey will be horribly dried out (165 degrees is best). Get yourself a digital meat thermometer … you’ll find you can use it for roasts and grilling all year long.
Myth: You Should Take Your Turkey’s Temperature in the Juicy Part of the Breast
Fact: The thickest part of the thigh is the what takes the longest to cook. Check your bird’s temp there.
Myth: Turkey Should Be Served Straight From the Oven
Fact: Any meat you cook should rest a bit before carving so the juices can redistribute. After you remove your turkey from the oven, tent it with foil for a few minutes while you put out the side dishes.