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Thanksgiving Survival Guide


November 15, 2000


1 loaf bread

1 carrot

1 bunch celery

1 pint half-and-half

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries

2 cups milk

2 onions

1 bunch parsley

6 baking potatoes

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

1 bunch sage

1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey

1 orange


Allspice berries


Cinnamon sticks









Dark brown sugar

Granulated sugar


Week Before: Order fresh turkey.

3 Days Before: Buy frozen turkey. Put in refrigerator to defrost. Make cranberry sauce, cover and refrigerate.

2 Days Before: Prepare pumpkin pie filling and make dough for pie shell.

1 Day Before: Pick up fresh turkey.

Night Before: Roll out shell and fit in pie plate. Fill and bake. Cool and set aside. Cut bread into cubes for stuffing and bake at 200 degrees until dry, about 1 hour. Set aside.


Day of dinner

9:30 a.m.: Chop onion, celery, sage and parsley for stuffing. Combine with other ingredients.

10 a.m.: Stuff turkey and put in oven.

Noon: Brown giblets for gravy. Add onions, carrots and peppercorns; then add water and bring to boil. Simmer to make turkey stock.

1 p.m.: Peel potatoes for mashed potatoes and cover with water to hold.

3 p.m.: Boil potatoes for mashed potatoes.

3:30 p.m.: Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil and set aside to rest. Make mashed potatoes.

3:45 p.m.: Deglaze roasting pan with stock to make gravy.

4 p.m.: Carve and eat.



There are three ways to thaw a frozen turkey. An evenly thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator for up to two days before roasting. Do not refreeze an uncooked turkey after it has been thawed.

Refrigerator Method:

The best, although slowest, way of thawing: Place the bird on a tray in its original wrapping and place it in the refrigerator until thawed. When its partially thawed, remove the bag of giblets from the body cavity and reserve in the refrigerator for making gravy or stuffing.


Turkey Weight: Approximate Thawing Time

4 to 12 pounds: 1 to 2 days

12 to 20 pounds: 2 to 3 days

20 to 24 pounds: 3 to 4 days


Quick-Thaw Method:

Leave the turkey in its original wrap, place in a large kettle and cover with cold water. Change the water frequently to speed thawing. Thaw until the bird is pliable.

Turkey Weight: Approximate Thawing Time

4 to 12 pounds: 4 to 6 hours

12 to 20 pounds: 6 to 8 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 8 to 12 hours


Microwave Method:

If the microwave is large enough to accommodate a turkey, thaw in a glass baking dish, following the manufacturers directions. It may take 1 to 1 1/2 hours on defrost cycle.



A turkeys doneness should be judged by its internal temperature rather than by the clock. Because new breeds of turkey cook more quickly than birds of years past and because the method of cooking may affect time, cooking charts are not the best way to judge a turkeys doneness. Always use a thermometer.

And what is the proper temperature for a roasted turkey? The answer is complicated. The official recommendation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is 180 degrees (that's 5 degrees less than the recommendation a few years ago). But one expert at the USDA told us that harmful bacteria that may be present in raw poultry are effectively destroyed at 147 degrees. (The danger zone in which bacteria thrive and grow is 40 to 140 degrees.)

The reason for the higher recommendation? For one, home ovens and thermometers aren't always calibrated accurately; the higher recommended temperature allows for a solid margin of error. It also leads to dried-out meat. Our compromise temperature is 165 degrees.

Note that there is usually a 10-degree increase in temperature that comes in the 15 to 20 minutes between removing the bird from the oven and carving it. That "push" after roasting should result in a final temperature of about 175 degrees. If you are cooking a stuffed turkey, the temperature of the stuffing at its center should be at least 165 degrees.

Insert the thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh, taking care not to touch the bone.

If you don't have a thermometer, you can test by hand: Wiggle the tip of the drumstick. It should move easily when done. Or poke the bird with a knife to see if the juices run clear.

Weve included the USDAs time estimates for determining how long it should take a turkey to get to 180 degrees. Use this even if youre cooking your turkey to 165 degrees to help budget your time.

Roasting temperature: 325 degrees


8 to 12 pounds: .....2 3/4 to 3 hours

12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours


8 to 12 pounds: . . . . . . . . . . .3 to 3 1/2 hours

12 to 14 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

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