I have stuffed my turkey and I have cooked it separately. I can’t really taste a difference but I don’t really care for stuffing, so this may be the reason. Lots of people would argue saying that stuffing the turkey makes everything more juicy. Others say it is just gross.
Here is my take. If you want to stuff your turkey with stuffing go ahead and do so. Just have a thermometer handy. Your bird needs to at least register 180 degrees when you check the thighs. The stuffing must be over 165 degrees or it can carry bacteria. If it is not, take your turkey out (take your picture) and then pull out the stuffing, place in casserole dish and continue to bake until it reaches the higher temperature. What is unsafe about stuffing your turkey is if you stuff it the night before. Don’t do this. The bacteria gets in the stuffing and grows in the cavity while it sits in your refrigerator. Stuff it right before cooking it. And don’t over stuff your turkey. It should be loose in the cavity for the heat to circulate and it will expand.
If you think it is gross to stuff a turkey, of course don’t do it. You can add fresh herbs and fruit (such as half lemon or orange) to the cavity. Once the bird is cooked discard the herbs and fruit. Cooking your stuffing in a casserole can still make your Thanksgiving table picture perfect!
Here is a few other tips:
- I like my turkey to have a nice brown crispy skin on it. Basting helps this but I would suggest not basting it until closer to the end of your cook time. When you keep opening your oven to baste your turkey you drop the oven temperature which can take longer for your turkey to cook and dry it out too.
- My family freaks out when you cut the Turkey and the inner meat closest to the bone is a little red. This does not mean your bird is not cooked through. As long as when you cut it the juices run clear it is cooked. The coloring is due to the immaturity of the bird. If it was a young bird this is the result of it. There is nothing wrong with your turkey.
- If you want to marinate your turkey, make sure you follow a recipe. To much acid (such as vinegar or lemon) can make the turkey tough. It is said not to marinate your turkey in the refrigerator longer than 2 days. You must move it around too so it does not just sit on one or two sides the whole two days. If you want to marinate your turkey but don’t have time for it, try doing it the night before or the morning of cooking it (depending on what time you want to eat) or us a dry rub. The dry rub is not really the definition of “marinate” but for the busiest of people, this will work.
Stuff it or not….really up to you! Just be safe about it!