by Dave Arnold
I’m repeating last year’s technique for my 2010 bird –the bionic turkey method. You can read the four-part saga here: figuring out the parameters; buying the bird; cooking the bird; and finishing the bird. This year I got a Narragansett bird from Heritage Foods USA. The Narragansett breed orginally hails from Rhode Island, but my turkey was born and raised in Virginia. Narragansetts are a cross between indigenous wild turkeys and domesticated turkeys, and they’re reportedly delicious. I’ll let you know. Here is a photo montage of this year’s bird:
Thanksgiving Tip: Don’t Poison Your Family
You aren’t supposed to stuff a raw turkey and cook it. It takes a long, long time for the center of a stuffed bird to reach a safe temperature. Making matters worse, stuffing is inherently contaminated because it is typically a hand-mixed product full of bacteria-friendly stuff. Some websites recommend pre-cooking the stuffing before it goes in the bird, but that’s a dicey proposition if you’re baking (or microwaving) the stuffing: you might pre-set the eggs or dry the stuffing out.
Here’s a workaround, if you have an immersion circulator — Put the stuffing you intend to put in the bird into a ziploc bag, press it flat, throw in some butter-knives to keep the bag from floating (a trick from Chef Herve Malivert here at the FCI), exclude the air, and circulate the stuffing at 57 C (135 F) for an hour or two — a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria that might ail you. The USDA temperature of 165 F is absurdly high. Absurdly. I don’t understand how they can, with a straight-face, recommend that stuffing be cooked to 165 F for safety. Much lower temps are safe if the stuffing is cooked long enough. I choose 57 C (135 F) because it kills bacteria but leaves the stuffing functionally raw — the texture isn’t be affected.
Leave the stuffing in the circulator till just before the bird goes in the oven. Stuff the hot stuffing in the bird and cook. The preheated stuffing will give your turkey a jump-start in cooking, a nice side benefit.