3. Beware of cross contamination. Your raw turkey is probably harboring some serious bacteria. You have to be vigilant about wiping up any liquid that drips from it with bleach or vinegar. Use separate cutting boards for the turkey and vegetables. Don’t even think about using a knife for preparing two different dishes without washing it in hot soapy water first. Keep raw eggs, poultry, and other food ingredients far away from each other. If your turkey is defrosting in your refrigerator and drips on your lettuce, and then someone eats that lettuce, they can expect to spend at least the next 24 hours vomiting and having diarrhea. Defrost your turkey in a pan with deep walls, and protect the other ingredients in your fridge with plastic bags.
4. Buy a meat thermometer. Undercooked turkey is just plain mean. Your guests might not be able to tell the difference by taste between a turkey that was cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees F and one that was not cooked to temperature, but they’ll know when their stomach cramps start. Even if your turkey has a pop up thermometer, you still need to check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
5. Don’t stuff your turkey. Stuffing is to bacteria as water is to fish — they breed in it. It’s likely that your stuffing won’t cook through, and the raw eggs in it will mix with uncooked turkey juices for an illness-inducing bacteria party. Have a heart and cook your stuffing in a separate casserole dish. Trust me, no one will complain.
6. Be careful of botulism. Botulism is best known as a paralytic illness you can get from canned foods, but frozen, pre-cooked foods also harbor it. Be as careful in the freezer section as you would be in the raw meat section.
With that said, have a merry and safe Christmas!