I can almost taste it. It’s Thanksgiving day, and good things are happening inside the dark cavity of the turkey: As the bird slowly roasts, delectable juices and golden fat drip onto the bread stuffing, drenching it with poultry goodness. Those scoops of stuffing are the hottest commodity on the table, and everyone wants a bite.
But then I snap out of my daydream, remembering the problems with this scenario.
First, cooking stuffing inside the bird to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (as advised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture) takes too long: By the time the stuffing is safe to eat, the delicate breast meat is sure to be overcooked.
Second, you can’t pack nearly enough stuffing inside the cavity to serve everyone; it’s just too small.
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Happily, we’ve come up with a simple solution: We start the some of the stuffing inside the bird, giving it time to soak up precious drippings, then remove and cook it with the remaining stuffing on its own.
Prepared this way, all of the stuffing will be moist, ultrasavory, and safe to eat—and there will be plenty to go around. But that’s not all. During its final stint in the oven, the stuffing develops a crisp brown crust, an exemplary contrast to the supple interior. That’s a lot to be thankful for.
How to Safely Cook Stuffing Inside a Turkey
1. Line the turkey cavity with cheesecloth.
2. Pack the cavity with stuffing, and the tie the ends of cheesecloth together. (Place remaining stuffing in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.)
4. Roast the turkey in the oven until the until thickest part of breast registers 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
5. Cut the twine binding the legs and remove the stuffing bag; empty it into the reserved stuffing in a bowl.
6. Roast the turkey until thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, and the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees, then set it aside to rest.
7. While the turkey rests, transfer the stuffing to a buttered baking dish. Bake until the stuffing registers 165 degrees and the top is golden brown.