Friday, December 4, 2009

Food Q&A: turkey, deviled eggs and mushy swordfish

Questions I've gotten lately, with my best attempt at an answer:

Q: How long can you leave cooked turkey on the bone? Modesto, Ca.

A: No more than a day or two. But it keeps better and it's a lot easier to handle if you strip the turkey shortly after the big meal. Break it down into white meat and dark meat, then bag it or wrap it up. That way, you can have the carcass ready to go into the stock pot and the meat doesn't get all dried out from going in and out of the refrigerator.

Remember that the two-hour rule for cooked foods is cumulative. Meaning, every time the cooked turkey is at room temperature, the clock is running. So, you roast it, you let it sit for 30 minutes before you carve it, you have it sitting on the table for an hour, and then you really only have 30 minutes left of that two hours. So it's safer and more efficient to carve all the meat off after dinner so it's ready to go.

I make four bags, two white and two dark. One of each goes in the refrigerator to use within four days of cooking the turkey. The others go in my freezer, for use later. This year, I got even more efficient and broke down the bags destined for the freezer into several bags, each with about 2 cups of chopped turkey. All I have to do is pull out a bag and I'm halfway to dinner to turkey hash, tettrazini or turkey and wild rice soup.

Q: How long can deviled eggs be left sitting out and not be risky to eat? Missouri.

A: Two hours, Missouri. One hour in summer or in hot conditions like out on a picnic table.

Q: I was at a restaurant and had mushy swordfish. What would cause this? Bath, PA.

A: It could have been frozen swordfish that wasn't frozen properly. Many things that are frozen have a softer texture after thawing, but flash-freezing right on the boat usually minimizes that problem with fish. But if the fish is mishandled -- say, it's frozen, thawed and then refrozen -- it could get mushy.

Another possibility is that it might not have been swordfish. There have been a lot of studies on the problem of fish that isn't what the label or menu says it is.