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Continued from Page 3

The USDA and I both recommend that stuffing be cooked outside the bird. If it is stuffed, the center of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees. I recommend that you heat any dressing up to at least 200 degrees before stuffing the turkey. This gives a little boost in warming up the inside and helps the turkey to cook quicker.


Timetables for cooking are, at best, estimates. The goal is to reach a certain temperature in the center of the meat. This is a function of cooking temperature, begin temperature of the food, size and shape of the food. The only reliable method of testing for doneness is a probe thermometer that has just been tested for accuracy. Nevertheless, here are some ball park times based on a fresh or thawed turkey starting out at about 40° F in a in preheated 325°-350° F grill. If the temperature inside the grill or the weather outside the grill drops substantially, or it begins to rain, extend the time or take the turkey to the oven.

These times are approximate and should always be used in conjunction with a properly placed thermometer. Times for cooking at lower temperatures, as when hot smoking or barbecuing increase substantially. Click on "Turkey" in the center of the opening page of the website ( for recipes on smoking and roasting.

The USDA and turkey producers recommend 185° degrees— taken in the thigh— which is way too high and is likely to cause the breast to be dry and tough. Also the little button that is supposed to pop out when the turkey is done is set too high. When the temperature in the center of the thigh reaches 160° degrees, I take the bird out and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Unstuffed Timing
Suffed Timing
Breast, Half
2 to 3 pounds
50 to 60 minutes
Not applicable
Breast, Whole
4 to 6 pounds
1 1/2 to
2 1/4 hours
Not applicable
Breast, Whole
6 to 8 pounds
2 1/4 to
3 1/4 hours
3 to 3 1/2 hours
Whole turkey
8 to 12 pounds
2 3/4 to 3 hours
3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds
3 to 3 3/4 hours
3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds
3 3/4 to
4 1/4 hours
4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds
1/4 to
4 1/2 hours
4 1/4 to
4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds
4 1/2 to 5 hours
4 3/4 to
5 1/4 hours
3/4 to 1 pound each
2 to 2 1/4 hours
Not applicable
3/4 to 1 pound each
1 3/4 to 2 hours
Not applicable
Wings, wing drumettes
6 to 8 ounces each
1 3/4 to
2 1/4 hours
Not applicable

Is Pink Turkey Meat Safe?

The color pink in cooked turkey meat raises a "red flag" to many diners and cooks. Conditioned to be wary of pink in fresh pork, they question the safety of cooked poultry and other meats that have a rosy blush. The color of cooked meat and poultry is not always a sure sign of its degree of doneness. Only by using a meat thermometer can one accurately determine that a meat has reached a safe temperature. Turkey, fresh pork, ground beef or veal can remain pink even after cooking to temperatures of 160° F and higher. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.

To understand some of the causes of "pinking" or "pinkening" in fresh turkey, it's important to know first what gives meat its natural color. The protein myoglobin is the major pigment found in all vertebrates and can exist in various forms which determine the resulting meat color. The major reason that poultry meat is much lighter in color than beef is that it is dramatically lower in myoglobin. Also, as an animal becomes older, its myoglobin content usually increases. Turkeys today are young -- 14 to 18 weeks old at the time of slaughter.

The pink, red or white coloration of meat is due primarily to oxygen-storing myoglobin which is located in the muscle cells and retains the oxygen brought by the blood until the cells need it. To some extent, oxygen use can be related to the bird's general level of activity: muscles that are exercised frequently and strenuously -- such as the legs -- need more oxygen, and they have a greater storage capacity than muscles needing little oxygen. Turkeys do a lot of standing around, but little if any flying, so their wing and breast muscles are white; their legs, dark.

Scientists have found that pinkness occurs when gases in the atmosphere of a charcoal/wood fueled grill, heated gas or electric oven react chemically with hemoglobin in the meat tissues to give poultry a pink tinge. They are the same substances that give red color to smoked hams and other cured meats. The presence of high levels of myoglobin, or some of its redder forms, due to incomplete denaturation during heat processing can account for poultry having a pink to red color similar to that of an undercooked product.

A component of hemo-protein in the turkey meat, cytochrome c requires a much higher temperature (above 212° F) to lose its pink color than myoglobin. Because turkey is tender and done at 180° to 185° F, heating it to above 212° F to change the pink color of cytochrome c would make it so dry and tough, it would be almost inedible.

Continued on Page 5

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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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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