Food porn shot of the day: roasted turkey breast

Not being a huge fan of deli meat, I like to make my own sandwich-ready roasted turkey. About once a week I roast a boneless turkey breast (to 165F) with some wine, salt, sage and onions (below, exactly as shown).

According to the NZ Herald, I don’t fit the typical male Kiwi profile, where only 32 per cent of men cook, and are more likely to use semi-prepared foods.IMG_0397

Turkey’s are sorta boring: Re-create Christmas a 12-day drunken festival in centuries past

It’s a line I use frequently, from our Christmas movie tradition, Mystery, Alaska, or second fave, Trailer Park Boys Christmas:

historic-xmas-7_custom-c9322f035d60b76c3ab1fcedd928a3512b503b99-s1600-c85The only fun things to do in cold weather are fornicate and play hockey.

If you are eating turkey this Christmas out of some sense of tradition, food historian Ivan Day says, put down that drumstick. After studying English cookbooks hundreds of years old, Day says the giant bird isn’t even that traditional. Besides, he says, “It’s a dry wasteland of flavorless meat.”

Sure, the first turkey came to England in the 1600s. It was an exotic “treat” from the New World. But a time traveler from Shakespeare’s time wouldn’t understand why everyone in the modern world was having the same dull bird on Christmas night.

At his farmhouse in northern England, Day collects old cookbooks and food illustrations. He says in olden days, Christmas celebrations were all about novelty and variety. The tables of the rich might include a turkey and a goose, but also peacocks, swans, partridges and plovers. A rack of venison would sit beside a giant turtle. The eating would go on for days.

Christmas used to be a 12-day drunken festival. Imagine Mardi Gras with snow. Cooks were always trying to top one another in outrageousness, from the traditional presentation of the boar’s head to the array of sickeningly sweet puddings. Day shows me a 19th-century illustration of a pie that took a crowd of servants to carry. It was filled with boned geese, woodcocks, hares and any other game they had around.

“This was the original turducken,” he says.

Ivan Day will be having beef roasted in front of an open fire for Christmas, and he says you really should stop and appreciate how Christmas must have felt to people, say, 400 years ago. They might have gone months eating the same thing every day, bacon and bread. The Christmas meal, with its exotic fruits and endless variety, must have felt like a miracle. “It was a moment of sunshine in a dreary year of grayness,” he says.

Say it ain’t so: Irish follow Brits on bad turkey advice

Safefood Ireland asks: Want to know the cooking time for your turkey to ensure the best (and safest) results?

turkey.calculator.dec.15This year it’s quick and simple. Just enter the weight of your turkey in the calculator, and it will calculate the correct cooking time to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection.

Our calculated turkey cooking times are for use in electric fan assisted ovens only. See below for guidance on cooking turkeys using other oven types.

I’ll spare you the convoluted details.

Whoever thought a calculator with all the variables such as oven temp, time, etc. was simpler than sticking it in has probably never cooked a turkey. With a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

CurtisStoneAnd of course, the piping-hot-no-pink mantra: “As with cooking any poultry, always double check that the turkey is properly cooked before serving. Your turkey should be piping hot all the way through with no pink meat left and the juices should run clear when the thickest part of the thigh and breast are pierced with a clean fork or skewer.”

Curtis Stone from Coles in Australia gets it sorta right when he says, “Baste the turkey and continue roasting uncovered for about 1 hour longer, basting occasionally with more spice butter, or until a meat thermometer reads 75°C when inserted deep into the breast. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a clean skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and if the juices run clear the turkey is ready.”

Just stick it in. Three times.

We’re having fish.

barfblog.Stick It In

Campylobacter in turkeys – Italian edition

In this retrospective study, typing ability, discriminatory power, and concordance between typing results obtained on 123 Campylobacter jejuni turkey isolates, collected in 1998, within 14 different farms, applying multilocus sequence typing (MLST), pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), antibiotic resistance profile, and virulence gene pattern, were assessed and compared.

therm.turkey.oct.13Overall, 33 sequence types, 28 pulsotypes, 10 resistotypes, and 5 pathotypes were identified. MLST and PFGE showed the better discriminatory ability (i.e., Simpson’s diversity index >0.90) as well as unidirectional (i.e., Wallace and adjusted Wallace coefficients >0.86) and bidirectional (i.e., adjusted Rand coefficient >0.60) concordance.

Moreover, both methods showed a good unidirectional and bidirectional concordance with the resistotype. On the contrary, the congruence of both genotyping methods and resistotype with the pathotype seemed due to chance alone. A clonal relationship was identified among 66.7% of the isolates. Furthermore, 59.7% of the investigated isolates were resistant to two or more antimicrobials and 92% to tetracycline.

All the isolates harbored cadF and pldA genes, whereas a flaA gene product and a cdtB gene product were amplified from 85.4% and 79.7% of the isolates, respectively, using the primers designed by Bang et al. (2003).

mr-bean-turkeyThe results of this study clarify the level of genetic diversity among the C. jejuni originating from turkeys. MLST level of correlation with PFGE, resistotype, and pathotype is assessed. This result supports the selection of type and number of typing methods to use in epidemiological studies. Finally, the identification of clonal complexes (i.e., groups of profiles differing by no more than one gene from at least one other profile of the group using the entire Campylobacter MLST database) shared between turkey and human isolates suggests that turkeys could be a possible source of Campylobacter infection.

Typing of Campylobacter jejuni isolated from turkey by genotypic methods, antimicrobial susceptibility, and virulence gene patterns: a retrospective study

Gerardo Manfreda, Antonio Parisi, Alessandra De Cesare, Domenico Mion, Silvia Piva, and Renato G. Zanoni

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease

doi:10.1089/fpd.2015.2048.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/fpd.2015.2048

I don’t eat potlucks, I don’t know where their bugs have been, and I carry a thermometer with me

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a few tips to keep your holidays healthy.

barfblog.Stick It InAt home:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To avoid overcooking beef, veal, pork and lamb roasts use a meat thermometer. These roasts should be removed from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees and allowed to rest for three minutes before serving.
  • Turkey, duck and goose should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees as measured by a food thermometer. Temperatures should be taken in three areas of the bird: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh.
  • Kitchen towels should be washed frequently to avoid cross-contamination, so a home cook can never have enough kitchen towels.

The rest of the advice is nonsense.

But Ireland, I have so much respect for your Safefood, yet you still insist on telling people, “no pink meat and be sure that the juices run clear before eating.”

Use a thermometer and stick it in.

Chapman sent me 10 for me to give out over the holidays. I’d be happy to mail you, Safefood Ireland, a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, since apparently no one in Europe is aware of their existence.

 

Why food safety risk messages from government are awful: Turkey edition

Want to know the cooking time for your turkey to ensure the best (and safest) results?

amy.turkey.oct.12This year it’s quick and simple. Just enter the weight of your turkey in the calculator, and it will calculate the correct cooking time to ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection.

Nothing is simple. Hooking up a modem is simpler than cooking a turkey.

Cooking instructions for the online calculator and SMS service cooking times

Our calculated turkey cooking times are for use in electric fan assisted ovens only. See below for guidance on cooking turkeys using other oven types.

Prior to serving, ensure your turkey is properly cooked – it should be piping hot all the way through with no pink meat left and the juices should run clear when the thickest part of the thigh and breast are pierced with a clean fork or skewer

If you are cooking a stuffed turkey, the centre of the stuffing should also be piping hot as this is the slowest part of a stuffed bird to cook

How many bureaucrats are employed to publish this drivel?

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer (thanks Ben and Katrina, latest batch arrived today, changing cooking procedures in Australia, one at a time).

Gotta walk the talk.

Thanksgiving Australia style, 2015 edition

We’ve tried Thanksgiving a few times in Australia.

We did the Canadian one because it was earlier and not so hot, we did the U.S one. and it’s too hot, so after four years we found a model that may have worked.

amy.thanksgiving.nov.15Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. No religion, just good food to celebrate the harvest. We have traditionally hosted friends, family and students to share the feast each year.

So this year we adapted to Australian weather, and had about 30 people – that includes a bunch of kids – to a park.

We have fabulous parks.

The kids had a great playground and an area for rollerblading, scooters, whatever, the breezes from the river were good, and we did it picnic style.

I cooked the turkey and duck the night before – to a microbiologically safe temperature as determined by a tip-sensitive digital thermometer — and then refrigerated overnight.

Saturday morning, I carved up the birds – and underestimated the popularity – and made a casserole-based stuffing. Amy made potato salad, our friends brought sides, it was a relaxing four hours.

The hockey parents talked hockey gossip, the neighbors talked town home gossip, I stayed out of the way and tried to make sure everyone was fed.

Safely.

kids.thanksgiving.nov.15They all said they had never had anything like stuffing, so that was sorta cool.

We took a hockey kid home for 24 hours so his Canadian dad could play baseball.

Cause that’s how we roll.

And look how happy Hubbell is (hard to see).

Then we played hockey Sunday am.

Avoid holiday pathogen starter kit: Thanksgiving leftovers version

Friend of the barfblog.com, Michéle Samarya-Timm, with the Somerset County Department of Health (Jersey, represent) writes:

thanksgiving.leftoversWhile conducting my annual perusal of online Thanksgiving hints, tips, tweets and infographics,  I began musing about Thanksgiving post-dinner activities.  You know, when folks are leaning back with turkey fatigue, food scraps begin congealing on individual dinner plates, the buffet resembles a feeding frenzy at the zoo, and the kitchen is stacked with pots clogged with unused remnants of fall harvest traditions.

This mellow and restrained moment often progress into a free-for-all, where guests start jockeying for position to grab leftovers to take back home. This lineup becomes fueled by individual dreams of creating a Friday morning shooter sandwich, turlafel, magical mystery mush or similar creative concoction of post-Thanksgiving residuals.  And so, the mad pantry hunt for tin foil, old Tupperware containers or the box of zippy bags begins.  You know it will happen.  With this in mind, shouldn’t leftover planning be a natural extension of Thanksgiving food prep?

An ideal Thanksgiving schedule allows adequate time for food preparation, thorough cooking and proper cooling of leftovers.  Just like asking the family culinary wiz to carve the turkey, the host (or guest) with the most knowledge should be tasked with overseeing the holiday food safety.

Why? You’ve heard the two-hour rule:  Never let hot or cold food sit on the dinner table or on the counter for more than 2 hours.  After two hours, the food has cooled to the point that it’s in the food danger zone – 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F – the range where bacteria can rapidly reproduce and contaminate the food.   This can be a tall task during a holiday meal, but one that is achievable with some creativity.

mr-creosoteDevelop a game plan for any extra perishable food.  After filling serving dishes in the kitchen, immediately divide up the remaining vittles into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and promptly refrigerate.  For leftovers tableside, invite guests to pack up what they’d like before the end of that 2-hour window, (try setting a music loop as a timer for that two hours) and encourage folks to stay for more coffee while their take-home bag is chilling in the fridge or freezer before the ride back home.  With that, zippy bags full of water make great cheap ice packs for that added touch of food-safety caring to-go.

Labeling the food packages makes sense so those who rave about your potatoes with marshmallows don’t find themselves with roasted brussels sprouts. In addition to including recipient names and food contents, labeling containers with safe reheating instructions (to 165 degrees!) ads that little-something extra –  and cute, printable tags found online can be adapted for this purpose.

Is that necessary?  While folks may be more likely to check the Thanksgiving turkey with a thermometer for doneness (after all, how embarrassing to carve a half-raw bird in front of a table full of salivating guests?),  FDA reports that 97% of leftover eaters don’t use a food thermometer before eating to check if the food is safety reheated to prevent possible foodborne illness.  You know Aunt Gladys, Uncle Charlie, and your loopy neighbors. Do you want to gamble that these guests are part of the 3% who safely prepare resurrected meals?

Take home meals can take on a life of their own if not properly handled. Reimagining Thanksgiving leftovers takes on a whole new meaning if not eaten over the holiday weekend.  After all, the idea isn’t how long the food is pretty or tasty…it’s how long before  it  can create ill effects. Two storage options exist:  Refrigerate and safely eat within 3 to 4 days (that’s Monday), or freeze at 0 degrees F for a longer lasting souvenir.

Enjoy the holiday with your family and friends. And when providing guests with take-home packages of harvest bounty, aim to give them ingredients for post-meal happiness, not a holiday pathogen starter kit.

With much appreciation to all the good folks working to prevent foodborne outbreaks.  

A labelling mess and a technology fix, turkey edition

My latest column for Texas A&M’s Center for Food Safety:

I have this weird affliction (among many): The more I read about a food involved in an outbreak, the more I crave it.

mr-bean-turkey(6)Mad cow disease, I want beef

Salmonella in eggs; I want an omelette

WHO cancer report? Had a steak the next day, and gave the kid a salami sandwich for lunch.

Salmonella in peanut butter? Won’t go there, never liked peanut butter.

The point is that crises or occasions are opportunities to get compelling food safety information into the public discourse.

Unfortunately, most of it sucks.

The U.S. glutton-fest known as Thanksgiving, which kicks off the six-week shopping orgy until Christmas, has appeared on calendars again.

As you do.

And simultaneously, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally approved genetically engineered salmon that has been in the works for over a decade (or two, I can’t keep track).

This has sparked a call for labels on all things genetically modified (I prefer engineered, all food is genetically modified).

FDA says, there’s no legal requirement for companies to label foods as genetically modified.

turkey.headAs you do.

Because FDA’s job is to regulate based on safety, not on consumer whims.

If retailers and consumer groups want to make a fuss, go ahead.

But your arguments suck.

I’ve always been a fan of full disclosure whether it’s labeling, point-of-sale info, a web url, provide full information on how food is produced.

Most people don’t care, but some do, and they can make a lot of noise.

When we sold genetically-engineered and conventional sweet corn and potatoes at a local market in Ontario (that’s in Canada) back in 2000, people preferred the GE stuff – because it required no pesticides.

The more info the better – for those who care.

With turkeys, consumers are, according to NPR , inundated with labels: natural, fresh, no hormones, young, premium and so on.

Fresh has nothing to do with the time between slaughter and sale. Instead, it means that the turkey has not been cooled to below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, it was never frozen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not define young for turkeys, but it requires that turkeys that lived more than a year be labeled as yearling or mature.

USDA says natural means no artificial ingredients have been added to the turkey meat, and the meat is only minimally processed.

Free-Range are raised in the standard, crowded houses but have access to the outdoors.

Premium means nothing.

No Hormones Added means nothing: By USDA law, turkeys (and other poultry) are not allowed to be given growth hormones.

And so it goes.

A possible fix is using smart phones and QR codes, so those who care can find out everything – and I mean everything, including if the seed was derived from radiation mutagenesis, a primal form of genetic engineering – if they want.

Meanwhile, we have enough food safety idiots practicing the things that actually make people sick.

During a cooking segment on the Today show this month, Matt Lauer handled an uncooked turkey, wiped his hands with a towel, then grabbed a piece of the cooked turkey that was sitting nearby and gobbled it down.

The tweets said, “Enjoy Salmonella for the next 24 hours, idiot,” and “We were screaming at the television set. Did you not hear us?” Lauer apologetically explained all of this on the next day’s show.

Other holiday tips:

Do not wash turkey.

Do not place a whole turkey over your head.

Do not pass babies with leaky diapers around the table.

In 2005, one American recalled how, when dessert arrived, the family started passing around the newborn baby. As recounted on the Internet site, fark.com, “Apparently, the baby had a pretty full diaper, and it was kinda leaking. He was passed to my uncle, and then passed to someone else. What my uncle didn’t notice was that a little something rubbed off of the baby as he was passed. He looks down on his tie and sees what he believes is some pumpkin pie filling, so he scrapes it off, and takes a bite. He spent the rest of the night in the back yard throwing up.”

We’ll be having turkey and duck with friends on the weekend. It’ll be safe.

Dr. Douglas Powell is a former professor of food safety who shops, cooks and ferments from his home in Brisbane, Australia.