One of the side dishes that is always served with a turkey dinner is stuffing and nobody is denying that fact.
Many people say that the stuffing must be cooked inside of the bird because it adds flavor. If you fall in that group, then you will be interested in hearing what the experts say about doing it that way.
Filling the cavity of the turkey with bread causes the meat to dry out but there is another reason why it should not be a practice when cooking the turkey. Safety professional say that stuffing a bird with bread could make you sick.
When cooking a turkey, it is important to make sure that the meat and stuffing are both cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. A food thermometer is used to verify the temperature.
A suggestion by the USDA is that the breast meat of the turkey should have a minimum internal temperature of 165°. The dark meat, on the other hand, should have an internal temperature of 170-175°. In most cases, the white and dark meat will reach those temperatures simultaneously.
If you eat turkey that is cooked to any temperature below those recommended by the USDA, you are putting yourself at risk. That risk can include exposure to harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.
A meat thermometer is typically inserted into the thickest part of the thigh and any fat, bone or cartilage is avoided. That will give you an accurate temperature. Those guidelines are more than just a way to make sure that the meat is safe, it also allows for a high-quality taste and texture.
When you add stuffing inside of the bird, however, it tends to complicate matters.
According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), stuffing provides “an excellent medium for bacterial growth,” and the risk for foodborne illness increases.
Cooking the turkey and filling together causes the bread to absorb the juices from the turkey while it is cooking. If the temperature is not kept at a safe level, anybody who eats the stuffing is in danger of getting sick.
The stuffing typically cooks slower so it takes longer to reach 165°. If you are cooking the turkey to allow for the stuffing to reach a higher temperature, it will result in the turkey getting dry.
You may have a family recipe that has been passed down from one generation to the next and it calls for the stuffing to be cooked inside of the bird. You may want to rethink that recipe and make a minor adjustment by cooking the stuffing separately.
Rather than putting the stuffing in the turkey while you cook it, use a turkey stock to replace the broth that is called for in many dressing recipes. When the meat has been cooked to the proper temperature, stuff the cavity with the stuffing while it rests. As a result of doing it in that way, you can make sure that everything is at the proper temperature and the stuffing will still be able to soak up the juices.