A holiday meal often features the traditional meal of stuffed turkey with all the trimmings. When the sights and smells of turkey and stuffing combine in the kitchen, mouths will water and guests will gather. Put on a tasty spread to celebrate a special family occasion, cooking a stuffed turkey to perfection.
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service recommends cooking turkey and stuffing separately to reduce the risks of foodborne illness. If you do insist on stuffing the bird, use a food thermometer to ensure that both the stuffing and turkey reach a safe cooking temperature. The inside area of the turkey thigh, the thickest area of the breast and the wings must all reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe. The stuffing inside the turkey must also be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Never stuff a turkey then put off roasting it -- once you stuff it, you must cook it immediately.
Prepare the wet and dry ingredients separately and do not combine them until just before you stuff the turkey, to reduce the risk of bacteria. If you add meat to your stuffing recipe, cook it first before mixing it into the stuffing to keep the stuffing safe from bacteria. If you want to prepare it ahead of time, mix the wet and dry ingredients, then refrigerate them separately until just before you stuff the turkey.
Stuffing the Bird
Spoon the moist stuffing into the turkey cavity immediately after you mix it together. You will probably use about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Don’t overfill the turkey, aiming to fill it about three-quarters full. The stuffing will expand while the turkey roasts, so leave room for expansion.
Roasting the Stuffed Turkey
Arrange the stuffed turkey in the roasting pan with the breast side facing up. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the roasting pan for extra moisture. Insert the meat thermometer probe into the meatiest part of a thigh and cover the turkey lightly with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning. Roast the turkey at a moderate temperature -- cooking a stuffed turkey takes longer than cooking an unstuffed bird. A 12-pound stuffed bird will probably take about 3 1/2 hours to roast, whereas an unstuffed bird of the same size might take only three hours.
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