911 Turkey Tips for Chefs in Despair

Once again, chef Sara Moulton has come to the rescue of Good Morning America viewers who are all worked up over the Thanksgiving meal once again in our annual "Turkey 911!" series.

Moutlon looked over every "Turkey 911!" e-mail sent via ABCNEWS.com.

Take a look at some of the most popular questions and answers.

Question: How do you properly wash the turkey? — Debra, Wellsville, Pa.,

Sara's Answer: Put your turkey in a clean sink with water and wash it with your hands, making sure you cover every spot. They rinse it off and wash your hands with soapy water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Then tuck back the wings of the turkey. Wash your hands again and dry them with a clean paper towel. You need to be really careful about salmonella when working with turkey.

Question: "My turkey is still partially frozen, how do I get it thawed?"

Sara's Answer: If your turkey weighs more than 12 pounds, it could be too late. But if it's lighter, get started right away by filling up your sink with cold water. Then put the turkey in the water, breast side down. The defrosting takes 30 minutes per pound, and you should defrost the turkey in a sink full of cold water. (On Thanksgiving morning, this will work for turkeys, 10 to 12 pounds, but for larger ones, you will have to wait until Friday to cook.) Also, you should change the water frequently.

Question: This will be my first time cooking a Turkey. How do I even begin? How do I make sure it will be juicy? — Elizabeth of Bonita, Ca.,

Sara's Answer: After you wash it — see instructions above — try to keep moisture in the bottom of your turkey pan with a chicken broth.

Then, follow the time chart. (See chart below) The government says that you should cook turkey about 20 to 25 minutes per pound.

When you first start, smear up your breast with some butter, and cover it tightly with aluminum foil until the last hour to keep the moisture in. In the last hour of cooking, remove the cover, and it will brown nicely, she said.

The main thing is to check your turkey 30 to 45 minutes before the lower temperature on that chart. For instance, if you have a 12-14 pounder, check it at 2 1/2 hours, not three hours.

Allow yourself like an extra hour from the point that you want to eat, which will allow you resting time, and maybe more or less cooking time.

Let your turkey rest. If you take it out of the oven and carve it, all the juices will come streaming out. Wait 20 to 30 minutes before you start carving.

Question: I have been cooking a turkey with stuffing inside it for 34 years. Now I hear that you should not stuff a turkey. Is this true? — Judy of New Orleans, La.,

Sara's Answer: People are concerned about stuffing the turkey, because they feel it might be unsafe. No one should stuff a turkey with raw ingredients like raw eggs or raw sausage. If you cook your stuffing before you stuff your turkey with it, you still have to make sure the inside of your turkey gets hot enough. See proper temperatures listed below.

Question: Where are you supposed to place the meat thermometer for an accurate reading? — Maureen of Rochester, NY

Sara's Answer: Put the thermometer in the thickest part of the leg joint — in the leg-thigh joint and please see the cooking times below.

Question: How do you make gravy and how do you separate the fat from the broth? — Dee, Kingwood, Texas

Sara's Answer: First of all, you want at least a third cup of finished gravy for every person at your meal.

Start with a good, flavorful chicken or turkey broth

Take the little packages out of the turkey that have giblets in them and throw them into the broth and simmer that while the turkey is cooking.

Use the drippings from the turkey. The fat will rise to the top, while the drippings stay on the bottom.

Sara's gravy recipe (per cup):

1 cup chicken/turkey broth
1 1/2-2 tbs flour
1 1/2-2 tbs turkey fat

If Sara didn't get to your e-mail, and you still have questions, here are some resources you can try on Thanksgiving Day. (Remember, you may have to spend some time on hold during the holiday season!)

Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, 800-323-4848 or www.butterball.com.

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline ,800-535-4555.

National Turkey Federation, www.turkeyfed.org

Land O'Lakes Holiday Bake Line, 800-782-9606, www.landolakes.com.

Ocean Spray Help Line, 800-622-3263, www.oceanspray.com.

Fleischmann's Bread-Line, 800-777-4959.

General Mills Bake Line, 800-328-6787.

International Food Safety Council, 800-266-5762.