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How to ruin a turkey

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

How not to make your Thanksgiving turkey

The Thanksgiving turkey is the center of your Thanksgiving meal. That means you want to prepare the perfect turkey. If you're a master in the kitchen, you know how to do that, but if you're not, read these ways to ruin a Thanksgiving turkey -- and make sure you don't do them!

Woman praying in front of stove

Not all of us are chefs. In fact, some of us -- ahem, me -- can burn water while attempting to boil it. If that doesn't make sense to you, imagine how I feel when I do it.

We're hosting Thanksgiving this year, which means there's a good chance I'm going to make the turkey. This should concern anyone eating Thanksgiving dinner at my house. Thanksgiving 2011 will be a year to remember, that's for sure.

I think that if I can avoid causing our guests to end up in the ER with food poisoning, it will be a win. However, in an effort to do my best, I've rounded up the ways you can ruin your turkey. To my family: I will try not to make these classic mistakes when preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.

Wash the turkey -- Real Housewives of Beverly Hills style

If you watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and you know your way around the kitchen, you probably laughed when Adrienne Maloof literally washed a turkey with dish soap. Now, I thought it made perfect sense. I mean, meat is dirty, right?

The episode that aired a few weeks ago featured Lisa, who attempted to show Adrienne how to make a turkey. Adrienne's logic was good, as far as I'm concerned. However, Lisa gave the turkey bath a thumbs down.

So, the first way you ruin a turkey? By washing it with dish soap. Apparently, that's a don't. The FDA says cooking it to a proper temperature is the right way to kill bacteria. Huh.

Microwave your frozen bird

Did you know that many grocery stores sell frozen turkeys? I googled this little tidbit and it turns out that you're not supposed to cook a frozen turkey in the micro. Who'd have thought? For those of us who think that ovens are for storing pans that you've never used anyway, this is big news.

The microwave oven -- the key word is oven, right? -- happily accepts my frozen food without a complaint. It cooks it up perfectly. Plus, my microwave is made by Viking, the same manufacturer of my oven. Doesn't that mean it's a good appliance, capable of cooking up a frozen bird?

Apparently not. The second way to ruin a turkey is by attempting to cook a frozen turkey in the micro. That's a no-go. Instead, if your turkey is frozen, you can defrost it in the microwave... and then cook it.

You can make candy in the microwave! >>

Failing to remove the plastic bag o' organs

Hold on to your stomachs, my fellow non-chefs. Word on the street is that many Thanksgiving turkeys contain a plastic bag stuffed with the bird's giblets. The word giblets is a euphemism for raw internal organs. If you can choke down the vom enough to proceed with your turkey preparation, keep reading.

Stick your hand in the bird and remove the giblets. If you don't, here's the bad news: If you "forget" about the giblets in your turkey and pop the bird in the oven as-is, you have to trash the entire turkey.

(Note: By "forget," I mean "pretend that there's not a plastic bag of guts stuffed in the center of your turkey.")

I know leaving the plastic bag of giblets where they were placed will ruin your turkey because the FDA says so. I am in good company -- on the internet, at least. I'm not the only one who might "forget."

The FDA specifically addresses this question from a fellow kitchen failure, stating that if you commit this oversight, "if the packaging containing the giblets has changed shape or melted in any way during cooking, do not use the giblets or the turkey because harmful chemicals from the packaging may have penetrated the surrounding meat." Chemical-laden turkey almost sounds worse than food poisoning.

Learn what to do with giblets in this turkey giblet recipe >>

I could keep going, but if you're like me, you'll ruin your turkey no matter what. However, if you have a chance of cooking up a delicious Thanksgiving turkey, make sure you don't do any of the above.

Now make me feel better and share your Thanksgiving turkey mishaps in the comment section!

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