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Use correct temperature for your Thanksgiving turkey

11/26/2013, 6 a.m.

More than 45 million turkeys will be cooked and eaten this year during the annual Thanksgiving observance, but to serve the best the bird, some basic steps must be followed.

The DeKalb Cooperative Extension says selecting, thawing and cooking a turkey require a little planning to keep the holiday safe and uneventful.

Begin with the correct oven temperature set no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the turkey on a rack in a shallow roasting pan large enough to hold the turkey and a meat thermometer.

For food safety and uniform doneness of the turkey, cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish.

Whole poultry is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured with a food thermometer.

Use a food thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the stuffing has reached 165 degrees in the middle, thickest part.

Even if the turkey has a “pop up” temperature indicator, it is also recommended that a food thermometer be used to test in several places.

Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

For reasons of personal preference, it is still best to cook turkey to higher temperatures, such as 180 degrees, to remove the pink appearance and rubbery texture.

Many factors can affect the roasting time of a whole turkey.

A frozen or partially frozen turkey takes longer to cook than a completely thawed turkey.

A turkey will cook faster in a dark roasting pan.

The use of a foil tent for the entire cooking time can actually slow cooking. Putting a lid on the roasting pan speeds up cooking and an oven-cooking bag will shorten cooking time.

A fresh or thawed turkey that is 12 to 14 pounds takes 3 to 3½ hours to cook at 325 degrees.

The only way to accurately determine doneness is by using a thermometer.

When the turkey is removed from the oven, let it stand for 20 minutes.

Carve the bird with a clean knife on a clean work surface.

For more information, call 404-298-4080.