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Continued from Page 4


Readers of The Great American Barbeque Instruction Book will recall that, in it, I caution against smoking turkeys until you know what you are doing. Readers of this column know that I am Mr. Clean when I handle poultry and I always use the thermometer to make certain that the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees before taking it off the grill.

You, no doubt, recall that I caution to always thoroughly and carefully scrub the knives, cutting boards, plates, pans and hands under hot soapy water after cutting or handling raw poultry. I even carefully clean the thermometer after checking temperature on poultry on the grill.

Yes, friends, I, Smoky Hale, Guru of the Grill, served up smoked turkey with the old enemy Salmonella still alive and kicking. It hospitalized two and made several quite ill. This is not the sort of information that one would normally want spread about. But, it is worth my embarrassment if telling the tale will keep you from doing the same thing.

Starting out, I did everything by the book. I thawed the frozen turkey breast overnight in the fridge, then submerged it in its package in a sink full of cold water - after I had carefully scrubbed the sink. When it was fully thawed, I removed the skin and trimmed it well.

I brought my grill to 200 degrees, laid on a pile of green fruit wood and hickory and placed the breast on the grill. I maintained the temperature between 175 and 200 degrees for about 8 hours before I checked the internal temperature of the breast with my industrial thermometer. It read about 145 degrees, so I added a few more coals and green wood, closed the lid and went away to play.

About 30 minutes later a thunderstorm commenced and hung around for too long. When it slackened a bit, I checked and found that the internal temperature of the breast had not risen appreciably. True to my code of caution, I took the breast inside, halved and deboned it to allow better heat penetration and placed it in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes.

When I checked temperature again by inserting the thermometer in a different location, it read 165 degrees and the two breast halves had all the appetizing appearance and delicious aroma of a perfectly smoked turkey breast. The taste lived up to the appearance. It was moist, tender and delicious. One half was consumed promptly. The other was sliced and refrigerated (after an hour or so) and served at lunch the following day. The second side was not the one in which I had inserted the thermometer.

It was three days later before symptoms began to show. The ill suffered four more days of misery before the final diagnosis was made. The days of misery for several people and several thousand dollars of expense might have been prevented, if I had checked the temperature of both breasts before taking them out of the oven.

There are two bacteria quite common to poultry and eggs. They are Staphylococcus and Salmonella. Staphylococcus is normally ingested from uncooked eggs - as in soft scrambled or in meringue or the picnic potato salad. The onset of symptoms from Staph normally starts within four hours with nausea and diarrhea. While it can be quite severe, your body normally rids itself of the bacteria within a few hours and recovery begins. Replacement of lost fluids is an important part of treatment. Rest and being kind to your stomach for a few days normally hastens recovery.

Salmonella is a germ of a different color. It lounges around in your body for from two to six days gathering strength like a hurricane. It comes on with fever, severe headache, nausea and diarrhea. In most cases, your body expels most of the intruders and your natural defenses take over to handle recovery - much like the recovery from Staph. But sometimes it is a monster.

Because symptoms do not occur until long after the tainted food is eaten, Salmonellosis it is harder to diagnose and attribute to a particular cause. It is usually only accurately identified after a culture is made.

Dr. Donnie Smith, a Gastroenterologist of some note, advises that anytime a combination of fever and severe headaches occur, contact your family doctor promptly since they may be symptoms of several illnesses. If diarrhea and vomiting become violent or do not promptly subside, contact with your physician is also appropriate.

The best defense against Staph and Salmonella is the old "Carnie" maxim: "Never give the suckers an even chance." Buy fresh or fresh frozen poultry. Keep it cold. Keep it clean. Wash everything carefully. And what ever else you do, cook it until it is all at least 165 degrees.

Personally, I am changing my tactics. In the future, instead of truly smoking poultry, I will roast it in heavy smoke at a temperature of not less than 225 degrees. The bird will pass through the temperature zone where bacteria can thrive much more quickly. And I don't believe you can tell the difference in the taste and texture. And I know I'll sleep easier for the few days following its consumption.

The Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual
Smoky Has A New Book
The Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual
416 pages of great information and wonderful recipes.
@ The Barbecue Store
C. Clark Hale
8168 Hwy 98 E.
McComb, MS 39648

Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.

'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
who is solely responsible for its content. Comments
should be addresses to

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Bad Weather? Too hot or cold? Know what your bbq pit is doing with these Wireless Thermometers
Bad Weather?  Too hot or cold? Know what your bbq pit is doing with these Wireless Thermometers

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Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

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