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So – you thought we forgot alllll about Thanksgiving today, didn’t you? Nope. Sorry. Ain't gonna happen. And this time, we're getting scientists involved.
Harold McGee is the New York Times columnist and author behind the culinary creed, On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen.
McGee has been named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People, Bon Appétit's Writer of the Year and to James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who in American Food." Let’s just say he’s got more food science knowledge than you can shake a meat thermometer at.
And just in time for the November release of his new book, Keys to Good Cooking - McGee has dropped by to bust some common folklore about that Turkey Day spread.
Five Myths About Thanksgiving Dinner: Harold McGee
Fact: Brining gives you a moister turkey, but the pan juices are too salty for making a good gravy - and the bird itself can be too salty for some tastes. To get a good turkey without brine, take the bird out of the refrigerator a couple of hours ahead to warm up, but put ice packs on the breast to keep it cold. That way the delicate breast will heat up slower than the tougher legs. Then during the roasting, check the doneness early and often to avoid overcooking.
2. Myth: You can make a wonderful stuffed turkey by cooking it in a very low oven overnight
Fact: Very low cooking temperatures and long cooking times are friendly to bacteria and can produce a toxic turkey. For the best results, cook stuffing separately and roast the bird at temperatures above 300 degrees.
3. Myth: To get a perfectly cooked turkey, follow a chart that gives you the cooking time according to the weight of your turkey
Fact: No chart can predict exactly how long it will take to cook a large roast, because there are many more variables than the weight. Use the chart as a general guide, but there's no substitute for checking the doneness yourself with a good digital thermometer.
4. Myth: To make a turkey safe to eat, you have to cook it until the breast meat is 170 degrees and dry
Fact: Breast meat at an inner temperature of 150 to 160 degrees is much moister and safe. Leg meat is tougher, and better at 160 to 170 degrees.
5. Myth: It's fine to put the leftovers away at the very end of the evening, just before staggering off to bed
Fact: Harmful microbes can survive cooking and at warm room temperatures can double their numbers several times an hour. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as the main meal is over, especially any meats, meat or cream sauces and starchy vegetables.
Is there another Thanksgiving myth you'd like debunked? Let us know in the comments and we'll do our darndest to help you out.
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
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