You’ve basted and roasted, pulled on its leg and poked at the pop-up timer. You’re certain the turkey is done, but when you cut into it the meat is still pink.
Pink turkey isn’t necessarily undercooked or unsafe to eat according to Sandy McCurdy, a University of Idaho Extension food safety specialist.
There are a couple reasons turkey might look pink even when it has been cooked properly. McCurdy says a component of turkey called cytocrome c, stays pink beyond the point when turkey is done. Turkey can be safe to eat before the meat is white and by the time it’s utterly white it will probably be overcooked and dry, she says.
Your turkey might also have a pink tinge because heated gases inside ovens react chemically with an oxygen carrying protein in turkey meat. Younger birds show the most pink and most turkeys that end up on Thanksgiving tables were just four to five months old.
According to Epicurious.com, organic turkeys are more likely to stay pink even after the meat is done.
The bottom line: Use a meat thermometer.
Poultry is safe to eat once it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but it may look too raw near the bone for your Thanksgiving guests, McCurdy says. Most people prefer turkey that has been cooked to 170 degrees in the breast and 180 degrees in the thigh. Epicurious.com recommends 165 degrees in the breast and 175 degrees in the thigh.
To save the embarrassment of overcooked breast meat, McCurdy recommends cutting it from the bird when it reaches 170 degrees and then cooking the rest of the turkey until the thigh reaches 180 degrees.
“When you use a food thermometer, you can be sure the turkey has been cooked long enough to be safe but not so long that it loses its tenderness and juiciness,” McCurdy says.
During the rush of the holiday season, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
Here’s one way to indulge without too many calories: Zi Spa’s Pumpkin Pedicure. That’s right, dip your toes into a pumpkin pie foot soak and pumpkin scrub. The treatment is followed by sweet pumpkin and vanilla lotion.
You’ll also be served a warm slice of pumpkin bread and orange spice tea.
The Pumpkin Pedicure is available for $55 through Dec. 15. Zi Spa is in Coeur d’Alene at the Riverstone Development. Call (208) 765-9400 or toll free at (866) 910-9400 for an appointment or check out ZiSpas.com.
This is the last week to send in your holiday traditions stories. If you have a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or other holiday tradition that helps you celebrate or preserve your heritage, I’d love to hear about it for a story I’m writing in December. Please send a letter describing the tradition and why it is important to your family by Dec. 1 to: Holiday Food Traditions, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210, or fax to 459-5098 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
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