Have you started carving the turkey and discovered pink meat?
Hold on – it’s not a lost cause… and it might not even be any problem at all.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the color of cooked poultry meat is not a reliable indicator of whether it’s safe to eat or not.
They go on to explain that Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F, and that smoked turkey is always pink.
The USDA says that the only way to accurately tell if a turkey is cooked enough to eat safely is to test it with a thermometer and make sure it has reached a temperature of 165°F throughout.
But if it’s cooked to 165°F, shouldn’t the breast meat be white?
Nope, says Modernist Cuisine, agreeing with the USDA.
They blame the pink meat on a pigment known as cytochrome.
“Cytochrome helps living cells to burn fat. At high temperatures, it loses its ability to bind oxygen and turns pink. Over time, the pigment does regain its ability to bind oxygen, and the pink tinge fades. That is why the leftover meat in the refrigerator rarely seems to have this unseemly blush the next day.”
They go on to explain that pink spots and speckles are also natural. “None of them indicate that the meat is still raw or that it will make you ill.”
So, how do you know that you really do have a problem with an undercooked turkey?
We asked ButterBall’s Turkey Talk-Line.
They told us if the texture of the meat is different, or if the juices run pink or red while the turkey is being carved, it’s likely undercooked.
And if it is undercooked, how do you recover and get dinner back on track?
FoodsGuy.com recommends continuing to carve the turkey to break it into smaller pieces for faster cooking.
Then “place the pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees, checking the meat every 15 minutes until it’s done. Typically, you can remove the turkey from the oven when it is 165 degrees internally. As it rests for about 15 minutes, the temperature will increase to 180.”
Do remember to clean the carving utensils well after the initial carving of the undercooked turkey before using them on the ready to eat turkey.