Most holiday preparations include meat. Following a few health and safety tips will prevent food-borne illnesses and ensure a safe and happy holiday celebration.
If your festivities include beef or lamb remember to keep your holiday meat chilled before cooking it. For safety, do not marinate your holiday meat for longer than five days. Be sure to cook your meat thoroughly. The juices should run clear and a meat thermometer will help you know when something is done. Most cuts of lamb or beef need a minimal temperature of 145 degrees F. However, ground meat must be cooked to at least 160 degrees F.
Passover holiday meat is typically beef brisket and prepared in advance. For safety, the meat should be heated to 145 degrees F. The brisket may be sliced early, refrigerated and served cold. If it is reheated before serving, be sure that the temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
When your holiday meat includes ham, the safety tips depend on whether you have a fresh ham or a precooked one. Cook fresh hams to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Hams that are already cooked may be served cold, but reheating the ham should be done quickly. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and be sure that the temperature is 140 degrees F to be sure that the bacteria are killed.
Poultry is another popular holiday meat. Health and safety tips for turkey and chicken begin with defrosting it. Defrost a turkey in the refrigerator and allow a full day for every five pounds of meat. You should also keep meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so that it does not drip on other food. Use a food thermometer to be sure that your holiday bird reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. When the juices run clear, take the temperature in the thigh.
Stuffing and safety is problematic. Some experts argue that cooking stuffing in the holiday meat is safe, but stuffing must be cooked to 165 degrees F, but people rarely let it cook that long because the turkey might overcook. A good safety tip is to cook stuffing on the stove.
Regardless of which type of holiday meat to cook, stay healthy and safe by refrigerating leftovers within two hours of the meal. Any food that is not eaten within three days should be frozen or thrown out.