The time to stuff ourselves silly is in two days, and our friends at Wyoming's Poison Center, along with Chef Tim Rockwell of the Sheridan College Culinary Institute, have issued safety tips to prevent food-borne illnesses during the holiday season.
The Center recommends keeping turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook, and to defrost a frozen turkey either in the refrigerator – one day for every five pounds – or by setting it in a cold water bath, making sure to change the water every 30 minutes. They say that a 20-pound turkey will take twelve hours to defrost in cold water.
Always use a meat thermometer, and when it comes to the stuffing, Chef Rockwell provides this advice.
Some families also cook their turkey in a rather unconventional way – although in a conventional oven: they put the bird in a 500-degree oven for one hour, and then shut the oven off for about four or five hours. Chef Rockwell elaborates.
Other Do's: store leftover turkey and stuffing separately in a refrigerator and use within three to four days.
Some big Dont's from the Poison Control Center: don't defrost a turkey at room temperature; don't leave an uncooked, thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than two hours; don't partially cook the turkey one day and continue roasting it the next day; don't stuff the bird the night before cooking; don't leave leftovers out on the counter longer than two hours; don't store leftover stuffing in the turkey; and don't re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.
If you suspect a food poisoning situation or if you have any questions, call the poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.