NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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My Turkey is Pink! or Dry! or?

My Turkey is Pink! Or Dry! Or?


As we move into November, we move into the season of family gatherings, food, feasting and specialty entrees – such as turkey. Cooking a turkey is actually a fairly simple process – sufficient time and temperature will yield a main course to be enjoyed by all.  Occasionally though, that simple bird can surprise even the most experienced cook.

My turkey is dry - A dry turkey is an overcooked turkey. There is no way to reverse that process, but you can still serve moist meat. The breast is most likely to be dry, since it has very little fat.  Evenly slice the turkey breast, and place the slices, in a single layer, in a large shallow pan. Slowly pour some chicken or turkey broth or stock over the slices, moistening them thoroughly. Cover the pan with foil and place in a 250 degrees F oven for 10-15 minutes until the meat is hot.  Carve the rest of the bird while the breast slices are in the oven.  The meat will be moist as long as it remains warm which means leftovers will be dry again.

My turkey is still frozen - Use the “thaw in water” method to thaw a partially defrosted turkey in an hour or two. Clean and disinfect your sink, place the still-in-the-wrapper turkey in the sink, cover with cold water and then every 15 minutes, drain out the water and replace with more cold water.
          My turkey won’t reach 165 degrees – Mostly likely a temperature reading that won’t move is a problem with the thermometer. If the turkey isn't registering 160 to 165 degrees F in the breast meat and 175 to 180 degrees in the thigh or let, check your thermometer. Bring a pot of water to a boil, remove from heat and add your thermometer. The thermometer should register right around 212 degrees F. If it's lower, and many thermometers are off by a few degrees, you'll know that your turkey is hotter than you thought.
          My turkey is pink - The color pink in cooked turkey meat raises a "red flag" to many diners and cooks.  The pink, red or white coloration of meat is due primarily to oxygen-storing myoglobin which is located in the muscle cells and retains the oxygen brought by the blood until the cells need it. The presence of high levels of myoglobin can account for poultry having a pink to red color similar to that of an undercooked product. The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. It can be 165 degrees and still be pink.  The meat of commercially smoked turkey is always pink.

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