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When a cook plans to stuff a turkey, she may do so with a little trepidation, since no one wants to make any guests sick. There have long been rumors attesting to the dangers of stuffing cooked within the turkey, but it seems that much of the attention is unjustified. Simply by cooking the oysters, or any other meat in the stuffing, ahead of time, the risk of uncooked food is eliminated and you assure that you are praised for the exceptional flavor of your dressing, rather than blamed for food poisoning.
The Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Butterball (Turkey) Hotline all suggest that oyster stuffing should be cooked to 165 F (73.899 degrees C). In addition, the Department of Agriculture also suggests that the turkey itself now be cooked to 165 F. This is an update on past years, when a turkey was considered cooked at a lower temperature.
If you do plan to make oyster stuffing, or any type of stuffing that includes meat, all meat products should be cooked instead of raw, when they are stuffed into the turkey. This will reduce possible salmonella contaminants. Moreover, additives to stuffing like onions, or celery can also be pre-cooked.
Some people prefer to avoid the work and risk of stuffing the turkey by making and serving their oyster stuffing, rice stuffing or cornbread stuffing on the side. This does help cook the turkey more quickly, since stuffing a turkey will slow down its cooking time. Most guests will not recognize a difference between stuffing cooked in a turkey, or that cooked in a baking dish. The main factor that may influence taste is that stuffing from a turkey tends to be moisture. This effect can be achieved by adding adequate liquids such as chicken or turkey stock to the stuffing.
For many, making oyster stuffing on the side rids one of the unpleasant tasks of stuffing and unstuffing the turkey. For others, a turkey wouldn’t be the same without the stuffing cooked inside. If you decide to cook the oyster stuffing inside the bird, then it is important to remove the stuffing directly after removing the turkey from the oven. Leaving the stuffing too long in the turkey may again result in food poisoning as the turkey begins to cool.
With the proper precautions, however, oyster stuffing is no more dangerous than any other type of stuffing. For people on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, it is often the most traditional stuffing for a Thanksgiving meal, and no Thanksgiving would be quite the same without it.
I don't know about dangerous, but it is gross. Oysters have no place in a Thanksgiving dinner.
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