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  • Thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator or in cold, cold water.
  • Once a turkey has thawed, plan to cook it within a day or two.

After thawing, remove the little white bag of giblets -- interior body parts like the liver, heart, gizzard and neck -- from the turkey. Rinse the cavity and the outside of the bird with cool water. Pat dry with an old bath towel. Salt and pepper in and out. Place the giblets in a large pot. Add a sliced onion (optional) and a few celery leaves (also optional), a sprinkling of salt and pepper and cover with water twice the volume of the giblets. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the gizzard is tender and the broth is flavorful. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the stove and store in the refrigerator. Prepare a stuffing from scratch. Or open a box and follow the directions. A basic dressing recipe follows. Pile the stuffing lightly inside the bird. You can poke some between the neck and the skin. No need to work up a sweat, jamming the stuffing inside the bird. Give that bread room to breathe in there. Extra stuffing? Oil a casserole and bake the rest in 325-degree oven until it's hot. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a flat rack in a large roasting pan at least two inches deep. Cover loosely with foil and roast in the oven. A 12-pound turkey should be cooked about four and a half hours. A 20-pound turkey takes about six hours. Heat one pint of water and a half to one cube of butter or margarine; salt and baste the bird with small amounts of the liquid (remove the foil for basting) every 30 minutes. Remove the foil tent during the last hour or so of cooking. Continue basting. Do this quickly so that the oven does not cool off. Rather not use butter and salt as a basting agent? Spray the bird with non-stick spray and baste occasionally with a little chicken broth. When time's up, take your turkey's temperature. The cooking thermometer should register 180-185 degrees in the center of the thigh and the juices should run golden, not pink. The drumsticks should wiggle easily. The stuffing's temperature should read 165 degrees. A microwave thermometer works well. Those pop-up timers inserted in the turkey are not reliable. Some safety measures: Your bird can rest out of the oven for 20-30 minutes. If you mistimed the turkey roasting and it must sit out for longer than 30 minutes before serving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you remove the stuffing to a bowl and slice the meat off the bone and keep stuffing and meat warm. Within two hours of its emergence from the oven, the leftover turkey should be off the bone and in the refrigerator with the carcass, if you want to keep it to make soup. After three days, freeze the meat and/or the carcass.

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