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Talking Turkey

Experts give advice on how to make this year's Thanksgiving meal the best ever

Stuffed turkey on table, woman serving green beans (USA)

— Tim Pannell/Corbis

Does trussing the bird really make for even cooking?

Rick Rodgers: Trussing is overrated. The idea is to simply keep the wings and turkey legs in place so the bird keeps a uniform shape. Tuck the wing tips behind the turkey shoulders so the "elbows" are akimbo. This gives the turkey a solid base when carving. If the turkey is especially wide, which happens with some big birds, just tie the wings to the body with a loop of kitchen twine, or even unwaxed, unflavored dental floss. Now, if the turkey producer has provided one, tuck the ends of the drumsticks in the metal or ovenproof plastic "hock lock" near the tail. If the turkey producer has just made a strip of skin at the tail for tucking the drumsticks, skip the tucking, and loosely tie the ends of the drumsticks together with the twine. I find that the drumsticks tend to come undone if you tuck them into the skin.

How do I properly carve a turkey?

Diane Morgan: If you are a confident turkey carver, place the turkey on a large serving platter and carve it at the table. For the majority of us, though, carving the turkey in the kitchen is a safer bet. Place the turkey on a carving board, ideally one that has a moat and well to catch the delicious poultry juices. Untie the bird and remove all skewers. Using a sharp carving knife and meat fork, cut down between the thigh and body until you feel bone. Twist the leg and thigh a little until you see the thigh joint. Now cut through the joint to separate the thigh from the body. Cut the joint where the leg meets the thigh. Repeat on the other side. Now you have legs and thighs ready for a warm platter. To carve the breast meat, start at the keel bone that runs along the top of the breast. Angle the knife and cut thin slices of breast meat from one side of the breast. At this point, you should have plenty of meat for serving. Lay slices of breast meat in an overlapping fashion down the center of the platter. Place the legs and thighs along the side. If a guest wants to have a wing, pull back the wing until you see the joint between the wing and the body, cut through that joint and add the wing to the platter. Cover the rest of the turkey loosely with aluminum foil and remove the meat from the carcass later for some fine leftovers.

Next page: Difference between a heritage and regular turkey. »

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