Thanksgiving is next week, and up until now we've covered some basics on decorating for the pending holiday, as well as offered some suggestions on meal planning and recipes. Now it's time for a bit of fun fact checking: There is a lot of misinformation out there on how best to prepare your turkey; everyone has their own experiences, and subjective "facts" abound. It's time to debunk a few of these notions.
Here is a list of myths you probably believe about the centerpiece of nearly everyone's Thanksgiving fare:
[info courtesy of Reader's Digest – rd.com]
Myth: You don’t have to thaw a turkey completely before cooking.
Actually: A properly thawed turkey is key to making sure the bird is fully cooked. A partially frozen will cook on outside, but the insides will remain raw.
Myth: Always wash the turkey thoroughly.
Actually: Scrubbing down your bird is not only unnecessary, it could actually be harmful. In an effort to clean the bird, you are likely splashing disease-causing germs around your sink and countertop; even nearby utensils and other food could be exposed. The USDA says it's "virtually impossible" to wash bacteria off a raw turkey, so why risk it?
Myth: A stuffed turkey won’t cook through.
Actually: You can reduce risk by heating the dressing up to at least 130 degrees before placing it in the turkey. Also, check the temperature of both the stuffing and turkey before serving. Note: Stuffing should be heated to about 165 degrees regardless of whether it is cooked inside the bird or separately.
Myth: Basting helps keeps meat flavorful and moist.
Actually: Contrary to popular belief, experts say basting doesn’t flavor or moisten the meat much because most of the liquid runs right off the skin again. Plus, opening and shutting the oven frequently can cool an oven quickly, adding to overall roasting time.
Myth: You can tell the bird is done by its thigh temperature.
Actually: Food experts recommended using the four-spot test to check for doneness: Use your meat thermometer to check the temp of both thighs, the thickest part of the breast on each side, and each wing. The bird isn't cooked enough until all areas register around 170 degrees.
Myth: The skin isn't good for you and should be avoided.
Actually: While turkey skin may be high in fat, it's the monounsaturated variety. Monounsaturated fats help balance cholesterol levels, which could lower your risk of heart disease, and it may improve insulin and blood sugar levels... So feel free to enjoy a small portion.