Sara Moulton Answers Your Thanksgiving Feast Questions

Chef Sara Moulton has the secrets to a perfect Thanskgiving dinner, and she's answering your questions on "Good Morning America"! Get her top tips on everything from cooking the turkey to great gravy and stuffing.

Cooking the turkey. We need to know how to bake it, brown it and be sure that's it's tender and juicy and not dry. Help! -- Inez from Jacksonville, Fla.

Sara's Method for Roasting Turkey

1. If turkey is frozen, thaw in the refrigerator or a sink of cold water (see procedure below).

2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Arrange an oven shelf in the lower third of the oven. Remove the neck and giblets from the body cavity of the turkey, reserving them for turkey broth (see turkey broth recipe). Drain the juices and pat the bird dry inside and out.

3. If stuffing, stuff right before roasting (see basic stuffing recipe). Return legs to tucked position, if untucked.

4. Arrange the turkey breast side up in a rack (preferably a v-rack), set in a heavy large roasting pan. Melt a stick of butter and brush the turkey all over with one third of the butter. Season with salt and pepper and cover the whole turkey loosely with foil. Pour two cups of chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and roast the turkey in the lower third of the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and baste with another third of the butter. Recover the turkey and roast until approximately half way through the total cooking time. Uncover the turkey, baste with the remaining butter and roast, uncovered, until a thermometer when inserted in the thickest part of the leg thigh joint reaches 165 F.

5. Transfer the turkey to a platter, leaving the drippings in the pan for the gravy (see gravy recipe) and cover the turkey loosely with foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes, preferably 30 minutes before carving.

Defrosting a Turkey

In the refrigerator: Thaw the turkey breast side up, in its unopened wrapper in the refrigerator. Allow at least 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey

In the sink: Thaw the turkey breast side down, in its unopened wrapper, in enough cold water to cover it completely.

Change the water frequently to keep the turkey chilled. Estimate a minimum thawing time of 30 minutes per pound for a whole turkey

Turkey Cooking Time in Hours
8 – 12 lbs.
2 3/4 – 3 hrs.
3 - 3 1/2 hrs.
12 – 14 lbs.
3 – 3 3/4 hrs.
3 1/2 - 4 hrs.
14 – 18 lbs.
3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hrs.
4 – 4 1/4 hrs.
18 – 20 lbs.
4 1/4 – 4 1/2 hrs.
4 1/4 - 4 3/4 hrs.
20 – 24 lbs.
4 1/2 – 5 hrs.
4 3/4 – 5 1/4 hrs.

*Internal temp. of turkey AND stuffing should both reach at least 165 °F **Source: USDA

Sara Moulton's Answers Your Thanksgiving Cooking Questions

Gravy Help! I want to make homemade gravy, but don't want to use the liver, gizzards, or giblets. Don't know what they are and really don't want to. I am sure there is a gravy recipe out there that you have with turkey that doesn't require using all the insides. Is there? -- Karen from Dublin, Calif.

The liver, gizzards and giblets add flavor. You can use just the neck to add flavor to a homemade gravy, which comes in all turkeys. You can make a simple turkey broth that can cook while the turkey is in the oven (see recipe below). And leave out the gizzards an, liver and giblets.

Recipe for Sara's Perfect Turkey Broth

Makes about 4 cups

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