Enjoy your turkey ‒ or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving

We have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. It’s the beginning of the “high season” for the turkey industry, with a focus on turkey dinners as the focus of family gatherings from now through the end of the year. I enjoy the annual effort to select, prepare and roast (I’m not a fryer) the turkey for our family gathering. We usually stick to traditional fare, though my favorite twist from the norm is to substitute a sweet potato pie for the more traditional pumpkin. The secret ingredient in my sweet potato pie recipe – a distilled product from the state of Kentucky – really adds a special flavor to dessert.

Other people take even more license with the traditional menu for Thanksgiving, and one you can learn more about from Michigan State University Extension is the turducken. I’m not making this up! This is a substitute for the traditional turkey that is a layered poultry dish consisting of a deboned chicken inside of a deboned duck inside of a deboned turkey. This is not April Fools! Folks also come up with hundreds of ways to cook a traditional turkey rather than just stuffing it and popping it into the oven.

Michigan State University Extension educator Jeannie Nichols has produced articles on this subject. Check out two articles titled “Downright Unsafe Ways to Cook Your Turkey” offered in Part I and Part II.

She’ll let you know the safe way to cook a turducken in case you’re wondering. And if you have a hankering to cook your turkey all night in the oven, she’ll tell you the proper way to do that. If you want to cook your turkey in paper bags or even in trash bags, Jeannie’s advice is to nix both ideas and use a food grade commercial cooking bag.

Of course, she bases all of her advice on research from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In addition to Jeannie’s article, MSU Extension educator Lucia Patritto wrote three articles titled “Extension Professionals Are a Good Resource for Thanksgiving Food Questions.” I agree! Read these articles to find answers to questions such as “How much turkey should I buy?” and “What’s the safest way to thaw a turkey?”

So enjoy your turkey – or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving, but please enjoy it by using safe methods of preparation following expert advice.

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