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You Want Me to Stick it Where?

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Anyone who’s cooked a Thanksgiving turkey has likely encountered the mysterious phrase “the thickest part of the thigh.”  As in “to tell when your turkey’s done, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.” Am I the only one who’s ever read that and said “huh?”

Frankly, to me, it all looks pretty thick. That phrase just doesn’t make sense. And over the years, I’ve suffered some undercooked birds because of it. Only after going to culinary school and learning how to cut down a turkey into parts, when I could see a turkey thigh isolated on my carving board, did I really understand this whole “thickest part” business. Of course, by the time your turkey’s in pieces on the carving board, it’s too late to take the temperature.

 Luckily, I’ve got some resources that make it a lot clearer.

This video shows you exactly where to stick that thermometer, and what temperature you need to look for.

And this blog from David Leite shares a neat tip for finding that thickest part: sort of an enlightened hunt-and-peck method.

Want more Thanksgiving tips and recipes? Visit our Thanksgiving Dinner guide.

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  • Briarhill | 11/19/2009

    I would be very concerned about the temperature inside that stuffing! That's the area most likely to get you into trouble. Most chefs I know don't stuff their birds, saying that it's a virtual guarantee of an overcooked, dry bird.

    Just my $.02.

  • User avater
    mfreckle | 11/19/2009

    Thank you for posting this! I have taken a few birds apart to see the anatomy, but still never seem to get the "thickest part of the thigh" correct. I have been just sick to my stomach when we cut up a bird that is clearly underdone. This year I hope to say "the turkey is done" with a lot more confidence.

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