The countdown begins for the biggest food day of the year. With all of our delicious, easy recipes we've been sharing this month, we hope you are planning to include Springer Mountain Farms chicken on your holiday table. Will you be cooking a whole chicken or other some other form of whole poultry? If so we've got some important information to share, but first....the ultimate Thanksgiving question...will you be stuffing that bird or do you prefer to dress it instead?
For optimum safety, the USDA actually recommends that poultry NOT be stuffed, but if you choose to do it, we want to make sure you are equipped with the knowledge of how to safely cook and serve a stuffed chicken (or other stuffed whole poultry) to eliminate the possibility of potential health risks to your family & guests.
COOK TO PROPER TEMPERATURE
By now, we hope everyone knows that chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F. You test this with a calibrated, instant read food thermometer by checking the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
If stuffing the chicken, you also need to make sure the stuffing also reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Use the food thermometer and place the probe into the center of the stuffing.
Figure that you'll need about 3/4cup of stuffing per pound of chicken. Depending on your guest count, you may have to cook some of your stuffing as a casserole along side the chicken or as dressing in the pan around the chicken as well as stuffing the cavity. A stuffed bird takes longer to cook than unstuffed, and makes an overstuffed bird even longer. This could cause the meat to overcook and dry out before the stuffing reaches the proper safe temperature.
Here are a few other important tips to remember when preparing and stuffing your bird.
It's recommended that a cooked, already warmed, stuffing is added to the cold whole bird so that the stuffing has a better chance of getting done at the same time as the meat. You should also wait to stuff it right before it is ready to go in the oven to help prevent bacteria from developing.
More safety tips for stuffing from the USDA can be found HERE.