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Old 12-27-2006, 04:44 PM   #1
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Carving Turkey - are ALL the juices supposed to still be clear

I ran into this last Sunday during Xmas Eve Turkey Carving.
I had baked my turkey until internal temp was 177 degrees (Taylor Probe Thermometer in thick part of thigh), took out the turkey, let it sit for 30 min, started carving turkey.
Some juices were clear but some were not - while I was carving, the juices ran clear, but the juices that accumulated at the bottom of the cutting board had a pinkish tone to it. So family members said to throw the turkey back in the oven. I did, but when we took the turkey back out (after hitting 177 degrees again @ 1/2 hr later), the juices were the same - it ran clear, but accumulated at the bottom it was pinkish.
So now I'm confused. The USDA says turkey only needs to be cooked until it reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees F. I cooked my turkey until it was 177 degrees for a lot longer than I think it needed to be cooked...the only confusion is the "juices run clear" bit. Does there need to be NO pink at all?
Can someone clear this up for me? Thank you!
Dawn.

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Old 12-27-2006, 04:47 PM   #2
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Was the turkey completely thawed, stuffed?
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Old 12-27-2006, 04:48 PM   #3
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nope, just a butterball 20 lb
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Old 12-27-2006, 04:48 PM   #4
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Was it completely thawed?
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Old 12-27-2006, 04:55 PM   #5
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yup. In fact, the packaging says it was never frozen. I bought it on Wed., kept it in the fridge until Sun when I cooked it (packaging said it was good til today in the fridge).

So....I take it there shouldn't be any pink at all? What I don't get is - if the turkey only needs to be 165 degrees to be safe - and I cooked it at 177 for a bit longer than needed (I didn't snatch it out of the oven the moment it hit 177) - then is the "juices need to be clear" thing true - or is it old? I mean, before this year, "they" were also saying that Turkey needed to hit 180 degrees?
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Old 12-27-2006, 05:13 PM   #6
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Turkeys cook unevenly. Typically, the last place to be properly cooked is the joint where the thigh attaches to the body. As a result, you can take the meat temperature from the thickest part of the breast or even the thigh and still get pinkish juices.

It is possible to get some pink even when the temperature says all is well.

I sometimes open that thigh/body joint and spread the legs so that area cooks sooner.
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Old 12-27-2006, 05:22 PM   #7
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Great, thank you! =)
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Old 12-27-2006, 06:08 PM   #8
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In some cases, the hemoglobin in the turkey meat can form a heat-stable pink color during cooking that persists even when fully cooked. This can be a problem especially when smoking or grilling a turkey - especially if brined before cooking.

Most harmful bacteria cannot survive a temperature of 160F or greater. In fact, salmonella is killed instantly when subjected to a temperature of 160F.
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Old 12-27-2006, 06:54 PM   #9
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Have you calibrated the thermometer? Was it possible you touched bone when you checked the temperature?

If you are sure the thermometer is correct, and your technique was correct, I'd not worry overmuch about a slight pink tinge....as long as you are completely sure about your equipment.

No two turkeys are going to cook the same. Some birds just have 'pinker' flesh in the dark meat area. For the most part, experience is what it takes to cook a turkey or any poultry correctly.

I know that poultry that is cooked from a frozen state stays a bit red around the joints. Even though your label said never frozen....anything is possible.

The best way to test your thermometer's calibration is to immerse the probe into a cup of water filled with ice cubes. The thermometer will read 32 degrees if it is calibrated correctly. Many cooks calibrate a thermometer every time before using it. Better safe than sorry.
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Old 12-27-2006, 06:57 PM   #10
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The not clear juices I have found too often in chickens, particularly the thigh parts when cooked seperately.

And have seen it persist when the meat is clearly cooked, and even overcooked. Have blasted, read that essentially cremated, a few pieces to see what happened and the juice never became clear. And there was a pink touch to it about the bone.

Why, I don't know.

But at 177 degrees to me the beast was done. Even if the thermometer was a bit off, 177 is very high, and you put the bird back again.

Maybe it is the way the birds are being processed. Dunno.

Now don't worry about it. Cook the bird to a proper temp, no higher than 160, and eat it.

You could start the bird with the back sticking up, or tent the breast with foil.

But I am starting to believe that a bit pink is something we are going to have to start to live with.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:00 PM   #11
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After the second round in the oven when it hit 177, did you eat the turkey or did you toss it? If you ate it, did the meat seemed cooked? If so then the red color should not worry you.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:03 PM   #12
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I always get aggravated with DH when he gets out the meat thermometer for my turkey. I've cooked enough of them to know when they are done. When the leg and thigh wiggle loose easily, it's done.
Of course I cook mine breast side down and covered until the last 30 minutes or so, when I turn it over and cook uncovered for a while to crisp the skin.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeraBlue
Have you calibrated the thermometer? Was it possible you touched bone when you checked the temperature?

If you are sure the thermometer is correct, and your technique was correct, I'd not worry overmuch about a slight pink tinge....as long as you are completely sure about your equipment.

No two turkeys are going to cook the same. Some birds just have 'pinker' flesh in the dark meat area. For the most part, experience is what it takes to cook a turkey or any poultry correctly.

I know that poultry that is cooked from a frozen state stays a bit red around the joints. Even though your label said never frozen....anything is possible.

The best way to test your thermometer's calibration is to immerse the probe into a cup of water filled with ice cubes. The thermometer will read 32 degrees if it is calibrated correctly. Many cooks calibrate a thermometer every time before using it. Better safe than sorry.
I calibrated it when I first got it and just now ran to the kitchen and checked real quick. It passed the test - 32 degrees in ice cubes/water. I didn't calibrate it before using - thanks for that tip, I was lucky this time and will remember to calibrate before each use in the future! I also have a KitchenAid Oven Thermometer that I keep in the oven to make sure the temperature stays as constant as possible. I made sure not to hit bone with the probe - actually stuck the poor bird a couple of extra times than I should have just to be sure. I'm pretty sure it wasn't frozen...even it it had been frozen before I purchased it, it sat in my fridge for 3.5 days before I cooked it, and when I was cleaning it, it didn't feel frozen at all.

Thank you for your thoughts! You've been very helpful!
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auntdot
The not clear juices I have found too often in chickens, particularly the thigh parts when cooked seperately.

And have seen it persist when the meat is clearly cooked, and even overcooked. Have blasted, read that essentially cremated, a few pieces to see what happened and the juice never became clear. And there was a pink touch to it about the bone.

Why, I don't know.

But at 177 degrees to me the beast was done. Even if the thermometer was a bit off, 177 is very high, and you put the bird back again.

Maybe it is the way the birds are being processed. Dunno.

Now don't worry about it. Cook the bird to a proper temp, no higher than 160, and eat it.

You could start the bird with the back sticking up, or tent the breast with foil.

But I am starting to believe that a bit pink is something we are going to have to start to live with.
You're not the first to mention it may be how the birds are now processed. Someone mentioned to me that some places are not "bleeding" the birds properly any more...and they've noticed poutry staying more pink than in the past. Kind of a scary thought...wonder what it all means.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
After the second round in the oven when it hit 177, did you eat the turkey or did you toss it? If you ate it, did the meat seemed cooked? If so then the red color should not worry you.
Actually, I finished slicing up the one breast (after the first round) and we all ate it - with no ill effects. The "pink" was more around the dark meat, so we tented the other breast and stuck it back in the oven hoping that would cook the dark meat more...but it was just the same when I pulled it back out of the oven (albeit more dry now )

The meat was definitely cooked. After the 2nd round, I figured, it just *has* to be cooked enough at that high of a temperature and that length of time...so I just carved up the whole thing. It's just a bit drier than I would have liked, but everything's cooked through real good.

I want to say that the pink is no worry - but wanted to double check with you experts as well since it seems to be such a long standing "rule" of cooking poultry.
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Old 12-27-2006, 07:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constance
I always get aggravated with DH when he gets out the meat thermometer for my turkey. I've cooked enough of them to know when they are done. When the leg and thigh wiggle loose easily, it's done.
Of course I cook mine breast side down and covered until the last 30 minutes or so, when I turn it over and cook uncovered for a while to crisp the skin.


I'm a new cook, so I have to rely on tools like thermometers to guide along the right path still. Would you happen to remember noticing the color of the juices of your turkeys - or do you not even use that as a guide? My turkey's leg and thigh were definitely wiggly - I pulled em off the turkey quite easily!
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:33 AM   #17
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Bones are fantastic insulators because they are made up of a honeycomb structure that does not transmit heat well. This is a major reason why I detest and avoid using dry cooking methods (roasting/grilling/broiling/etc.) with any meats that contain a bone. You will always have a greater variance in "doneness" with meats which contain a bone(s) when using dry cooking methods compared to boneless cuts. There are certainly things you can do to combat this (such as cooking for longer periods of time at lower temperatures), but it is difficult to get a bone-in cut of meat cooked to the same temperature throughout without overcooking.

When roasting whole animals, you throw in the added complexities of different shapes/surface areas, different muscle groups, and different finished temps for various sections of the bird.

I've probably roasted a couple hundred chickens and a few dozen turkeys trying to find a "perfect" way without success. The best way to ensure success is to remove a few of the variables by roasting the breast/ribcage separate from the legs/thighs. Legs/thighs can stand-up to longer cooking (and need to) because of their higher fat content and connective tissues that melt out and give that lip-smacking lusciousness. The breastmeat is at a disadvantage here, especially when you consider that part of the meat is protected by bones (ribcage). Roasting at lower temps does give you much more even heat penetration which usually minimizes the undercooked at the bone, and slightly overcooked at the surface issue. Figuring out what temp that is while also sufficently browning the skin in the same time-frame can be tough.

I start the legs/thighs separately, and then add the hotel-style breast in a bit later. I shoot for 180F in the thickest part of the legs, and 165F for the meat in the thickest part of the breast near the ribcage. It's important that enough time is given for the connective tissues in the thighs to fully break-down to produce that fantatsic finish that most judge by the "wiggly" legs. More often than not, on a whole bird the breast is usually overcooked by this time, or when roasted upside down the skin isn't crisp.

Anyhoo, just sharing some info and misery...

Lately, I've been removing the skin from the chicken in one piece, deboning/separating the breast, overlapping the halves, wrapping them with the skin (and tying like a roast), then roasting at a medium-high temp. Without the bones and with the skin protecting the breast from the radiant heat, you finish with a near-perfect 165F log of meat encased in a crisp skin all the way around (remember to rotate the "log" as it cooks to ensure crisp skin all around). A bit work intensive the first few times you do it, but gets routinely easy after that. I'll then bone the thighs for another meal, use the giblets (minus the liver) for a pan sauce with the breast-roast, and save the remainder for stock.
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:39 AM   #18
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Why don't you try 1-800-BUTTERBALL? They'll be able to answer all your questions, I bet.
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Old 12-28-2006, 12:28 PM   #19
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Update:


I called the USDA Food Safety hotline to discuss this issue and we concluded that I did everything right - the juices should not have been pink - but they have been recieving more and more calls on this exact same issue. They're not sure why, but maintain that if the poultry is cooked to 165 degrees - it is safe. Anything beyond that is personal preference. They recommended that I contact Butterball directly to see if they could shed any more light on the topic. I did that and spoke to a VERY rude Customer Service agent who basically said that the thigh area HAS to be 180 degrees. When I asked her why that would be when USDA has determined that 165 degrees was sufficient earlier this year, her response was that she is not with the USDA and this is how Butterball has been doing it for years and if I had read the instructions that came with my turkey, I would have seen that. Needless to say, I couldn't talk to her anymore after that. I thanked her, hung up, and sent them a detailed email explaining my concerns and my experience with their customer service. I will post here if they reply back with any kind of answer. (if you guys are interested)

So I guess the bottom line is - several people have noticed poultry to still be "pinkish" even after blasting with heat (above 180 degrees). 165 degrees is all that is *necessary* for it to be safe to eat...anything above that is personal preference.

Wish it weren't so hard to get straight answers. I'm only concerned with the health and safety of my loved ones that I'm feeding... =(
P.S. - the people at the USDA hotline are VERY nice, helpful, and supportive.
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Old 12-28-2006, 12:46 PM   #20
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Turkey is safe to eat above 160F regardless of the color of any juices. Meat texture continues to change from 160 to 185. You may prefer the texture of the thigh meat at 185.
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