Dear Lynne,

We are organizing our annual Thanksgiving buffet. My cousin is being a pain. She says we have to have hot plates to keep the turkey and my sausage stuffing hot. I think they are safe at room temperature for a couple of hours. Who is right?

-Tom in New York City

Dear Tom,

I hate to tell you, but your cousin wins this one. Left at room temperature, any animal protein will spoil (which includes the meat in the stuffing, and any eggs there too).

You may not taste it, but spoilage is happening. It can make you sick. Also, moist bread is a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria.

Play it safe. Keep the hot food hot, which is 200ºF or higher, and the cold food cold, which is 32ºF to 34ºF. Use an instant-reading thermometer to see how things are doing.

-Lynne

Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.