Safety tips for serving turkey

Published 7:11 am Wednesday, November 24, 2004

By By Carolyn Bivins Extension Agent
Many of us will be going over the hills and through the woods to grandma's house on Thanksgiving Day. Others will choose to venture out on their own and make Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. However, many people would rather visit with friends and family than spend their holiday trapped in the kitchen.
Some people opt for a take-out holiday meal from a restaurant or supermarket. But, people using this option should follow a few food safety tips, says Dr. Jean Weese, Extension food scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
When you pick up the meal, make sure the turkey or meat is hot (140 degrees F or higher on a meat thermometer) or has been refrigerated and is cold to the touch. Don't accept turkeys that have stuffing in the cavity. The stuffing may not be safe to eat, Weese says.
After pick up, serve the meal and refrigerate the leftovers within two hours. Perishable foods should not remain in the temperature danger zone – 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F- for more than two hours. If you pick up the meal the day before or well before you plan to serve it, carve the turkey or other meat immediately and refrigerate it in small covered containers. Divide any side dishes into small containers and refrigerate them as well.
To serve, reheat the turkey in a 325degree F. oven until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Reheat side dishes either on the stovetop or in the oven until they boil or are bubbly. Using chafing dishes or electric warming trays will keep hot foods at the correct temperatures.
Here is wonderful dessert to try for Thanksgiving. You can even substitute sweet potatoes for pumpkins. It's called:
Pumpkin and Praline Pie
Mix sugars, flour, bitters, spices in large bowl. Stir in egg; set aside
Melt butter in large skillet over low heat. Add pumpkin, stirring occasionally until puree thickens slightly, 10 minutes. Gradually stir hot pumpkin into sugar mixture; stir in evaporated milk, milk and 1 cup water. If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare crusts. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread half the praline mix in each crust. Bake until praline is golden brown and bubbly, around 10 minutes; cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Pour half pumpkin filling into each crust; smooth top with spatula. Bake until pumpkin is firm and crusts are golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool completely and serve. Garnish with whipped cream or topping, if desired.