Food Safety re: transporting a Thanksgiving partly cooked turkey

linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)

We have never done this before: brought a turkey. My son and daughter in law are hosting Thanksgiving - held THIS Saturday (because he is working on Thanksgiving and all that weekend). It will be at their place because they have a 17 month old toddler who gets car sick.


My husband and I are making the turkey. WE have to cook it,. no one else can. Plan is to cook it partly at our house and then finish it there. But I have no idea if that is safe or not. They live an hour away.


Or are we better off cooking it fully then reheating it there? If so, how do we keep a juicy, non-dry bird?


The turkey is 14 pounds, purchased today, frozen, now thawing in our fridge.


I have a Chef Alarm temperature probe I will use for the initial cooking, and bring with too. I also have an instant read thermometer I use to double check. The combo worked great last year to produce a perfect turkey.


Thanks for your help.

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Louiseab Ibbotson

I wouldn’t personally risk it. Others may know better than I. Ina Garten has a recipe for make ahead roast turkey that I would try if I were you just to be safe.

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Olychick

I would definitely not stuff it, but would probably fully roast it in foil or roasting bag, then uncover it at your destination and heat it up to crisp the skin a bit. If unstuffed, it would be fine to take it out of the oven just before you leave and transport it hot. An hour out of the oven, then reheated will be fine. Just don't get into a traffic jam!

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John Liu

I am not super worried about the food safety aspects of your plan, but I think it would simply be easier to fully cook the turkey at your home then wrap it in foil to retain the heat, then reheating as needed before serving. You can take that time to make the gravy!

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linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)

Thanks. I should have mentioned it will be UNstuffed.


When reheating it, what temperature should I go up to? The same I used as a probe setting when making it in the first place? Or just what seems like a good serving temperature? (not that I know what that is....)



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plllog

For both food safety and ease, I agree with John and Olychick.

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Fun2BHere

It should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165º F. I think I would carve it and reheat the slices in a bit of broth and butter rather than trying to reheat the whole bird.

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lindac92

Agree with John and Olychick....rewarm at 250 to "hot enough"....no need to heat to 165 if it's fully cooked
40 to 90 is the danger zone and food should not be at that temperature for more than 2 hours.
I would cook the turkey wrap in foil and layers of newspaper immediately place into a cooler....which in reality is a big thermos bottle, keeping hot things hot and cold things cold.
Wayback when we were going to every Iowa home game, I would at least ocne a year when the game was early, cook 3 or 4 quiches and stack them between stoneware plates in a styrofoam cooler that originally came packed with frozen Omaha Steaks. After 2 hours, the quiche were still burn your mouth hot.....and after another 3 1/2 hours, they were still very warm.
Your turkey should stay at a hot enough to eat temperature for the 2 hours until you get it on the table.
Alternativly, you could cook and carve the bird, wrap well and refrigerate over night, and reheat when you arrive...pour on a bit of chicken broth...or turkey broth if you aren't making gravy from the broth and reheat, covered in a 350 oven ( it will take longer when cold, than when warm) until it's warm enough.....about 120 or so.
Alternatively, you could spatchcock the bird and cook it at 450 when you arrive. Depending on the size of the bird it could take about 90 minutes.

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TXSkeeter

Hot: Wrap the cooked bird in foil and a food quality plastic bag so it won't leak (oven cooking bags are safe), place in a standard drink type cooler surrounded by towels or a blanket. You're good to go for at least two to three hours unless you're driving through a blizzard in which case you should probably throw a loaf of bread in the car too just in case you get stuck and feel the need for a snack.

Cold: Shuck turkey down to it's main cuts (breast, legs, thighs, etc.) after cooking to completion, cover with chicken or turkey broth, place in refrigerator overnight or freezer for a couple of hours to make sure all is cold then do the drink cooler routine as noted above. Easily reheated once you arrive at your destination

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

"-----My husband and I are making the turkey. WE have to cook it,. no one else can. Plan is to cook it partly at our house and then finish it there. But I have no idea if that is safe or not. They live an hour away.----"


Very dangerous. Don't do it.


"-----Or are we better off cooking it fully then reheating it there? If so, how do we keep a juicy, non-dry bird?----"


Not easy, you may end up with a cold turkey inside or dry turkey outside.


Here is what I have done many times. It's easy enough. I got a sheet of 1/2 rigid foam board from Home Depot. The kind with one side silver. I used a kitchen knife to cut the board (10 minutes), I used duct tape to glue the cut boards (6 pieces, silver side in, another 10 minutes) to form a highly insulated box for the turkey. This box can be taken apart in 3 minutes and store away for the next year's turkey.


A perfectly cooked turkey from the oven into this box can be serving hot for half a day.


Just before serving, you may want to put the turkey inside a preheated (500F) oven for 5 minutes to brown the skin a little more without over cooking the meat.


dcarch



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plllog

Unless it's a giant turkey which doesn't fit, wouldn't a well insulated, modern cooler work just as well?


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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m


plllog, many coolers are simple double wall construction, which is not as effective as foam board insulation. The foam board I mentioned has one side silvered, which reflects IR wave, just like double wall vacuum separated thermos bottles which have the wall silvered.

,


dcarch

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plllog

You're right. I was thinking about modern coolers, but even my flip-box, which is great for carrying around big hot lasagnas and is just heavy German styrofoam, keeps it amazingly hot.

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lindac92

Line your premade styrofoam cooler with foil...Always save those styrofoam coolers that are shipped with frozen food like steaks.

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Cloud Swift

How long are you able to cook it at your son and DIL's house? If you can spatchcock the turkey, a 14 pound should be done in about 90 minutes - a lot faster than bake time for an un-flattened turkey. If there isn't enough time for that, transporting it turkey fully cooked and insulated to keep it hot is probably best.

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linnea56 (zone 5b Chicago)

Thanks, everyone!

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

A basic cooler will keep something cold or hot for hours. Safely. We do it all the time for BBQs(hot) and frozen foods. Think your basic travel mugs. Hot coffee 2 hours later, iced tea in the summer...ice still solid cubes.

If you are not sure about your coolers insulation, test it. (there is foam in the layers usually.) The manufacturers know what they are doing. No need to build your own.

Put a towel in the bottom, then some newspaper, or cardboard...then a pot of hot water or tea kettle. Test the temp, then again in an hour, then two hours. Or four...

Hot food will be safely hot for a long time. Depending on your cooler. I've never needed longer than 2-3 hours so not tested more than that...but I have traveled with a solid block of bagged cod frozen for four days and it was still solid. (dropped the block on a rock when home and put the frozen bagged portions into the freezer).

Hot food above 140. Magic numbers are 40-140. Cold food under 40, hot food above 140.

Cook your turkey to almost done 160. Covered, not crispy roasted yet. Cheese cloth butter soaked on the breast maybe. (foil over). Find a pan that fits your cooler over a towel and newspaper. Breast side down, (all the juices Weill keep the breast moist) cover with parchment/foil, then newspaper, another towel ...temp may drop to 155-160 in two hours. Safe temp. Oven roast half hour 375 ish when you arrive. Breast side up uncovered to brown.

You can pre-heat your cooler with a pan of hot water or kettle if nervous. But you have an instant read so you can check it.

Seems a bit of a pain-in-the-but though rather simple thought through the process and having it all ready to go.

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