No matter what kind of turkey you'll be having this year, there's one question you'll need the answer to: what temperature does a turkey need to reach in order to be considered done?
Until 2008, the USDA recommended cooking turkey to an internal temperature of 180ºF. But based on the fact that bacteria threat salmonella cannot withstand temperatures of 160ºF after 30 seconds, the FDA now suggests a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF as measured by a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
The FDA doesn't really account for the fact that the breasts cook slower than the thighs. Turkey experts like Butterball recommend cooking the breast to 165ºF and the thigh to 180ºF. The key number is the breast temperature, so stress less about the thigh temperature (as long as it's over the 160ºF ballpark). And, if you really want the juiciest white meat possible, factor in carry-over cooking. America's Test Kitchen says to pull the bird out of the oven at 160ºF, since the residual heat from the meat will raise the temperature to 165ºF as it rests for 15-20 minutes (but no more than 30).
We monitored our bird's temperature using a probe thermometer like iDevices: Kitchen Thermometer ($80).
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