|© Can Stock Photo / gajdamak|
It's the time of the year when I get up close and personal with Tom Turkey.
The first, and most important step in preparing the traditional Thanksgiving feast is making sure the turkey is thoroughly washed and properly prepared for roasting. Turkey, like any poultry, is prone to salmonella, an airborne pathogen that can find its way to your turkey by improper handling at the packing house or by improper handling at your house.
Most of us buy frozen turkeys, and the best way to defrost them is to put them in the refrigerator several days before the Thanksgiving meal, but sometimes things don't always go as planned. If you have to do a quick defrost the best way to proceed is by filling the sink with scalding hot water and soaking the bird. You may have to repeat several times over the course of a few hours. And be sure to keep the bird covered. The original wrapper works best. Salmonella can be airborne, so an uncovered turkey, or any meat for that matter, left out to defrost is an open invitation to trouble.
Once the turkey has been completely defrosted it needs a good bath. With any poultry I always go on the assumption that salmonella is there, so I put it in the kitchen sink, (which by the way, needs to be cleaned and sanitized first), and I run the water over all over it. Salmonella can hide in the nooks and crannies. This is when you get up close and personal, so be sure to wash under the wings and thighs, in all the joints, and make sure to thoroughly flush out the body cavity while you're at it. Yes, this process can get a little messy, particularly if you're washing a big turkey, but trust me, it's well worth the effort.
Once the turkey has been completely washed it's ready for the roaster, the fryer, or the smoker, and be sure to clean the sink and countertops with disinfectant wipes to help prevent cross-contamination so you don't end up with a rather nasty, uninvited guest.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.