Turkey Tips for One and All

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No matter how experienced you are, no matter how many times you've prepared the same holiday meal, anybody can forget to take the turkey out of the freezer, or the giblets out of the bird.

If you haven't already, get that bird out of the freezer now.

Then check out these other tips and reminders, useful for novices and old hands alike:

If possible, thaw frozen turkey in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for every five pounds of weight. Too late? Then thaw the bird (preferably still wrapped) by submerging it in ice water in a sink, ice chest or large pail. (Add more ice as it melts to keep the surface cold as it thaws.) Allow 30 minutes per pound, or about seven hours for a 14-pound bird, 10 for a 20-pounder. When thawed, drain, blot dry and refrigerate. And remove the giblets.

When you remove the plastic wrapper, keep the roasting directions.

To be safe, bake dressing/stuffing separately. If you must stuff the bird, do so just before roasting, keep it loose and add about 5 minutes per pound to the cooking time. Otherwise, put a couple of coarsely chopped onions and/or apples in the turkey cavity for flavor.

Brush the turkey with oil.

Roast as directed on label, remembering to turn the oven on.

Or heat the oven to 325 degrees for birds up to 12 pounds; 350 degrees, if larger. Put the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Cover loosely with foil, dull side up, and roast to 170 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 15 minutes per pound, or until meat juices run clear and the leg joint is loose. Baste occasionally with pan juices.

When done, let the turkey stand for 15 minutes, allowing the juices to settle, before carving.

After dinner, remove leftover meat from the carcass, wrap it airtight, and refrigerate immediately. Freeze any that won't be used within two days.

- Marilynn Marter