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;Â 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.Â 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 stuffingÂ 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. Â Much lower temps are safe if the stuffing is cooked long enough.Â 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. Â 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.