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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

Is cooking a "heritage" bird different than cooking a "regular" turkey?

Rick Rodgers: Heritage turkey can be daunting. You just never know exactly what you're in for because each turkey is different — a Bourbon Red may roast differently than a Narragansett. Just allow extra time for the turkey to roast. My rule of thumb is 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey at 325 degrees. I'd estimate 3 1/4 hours for a 10- to 12-pound heritage bird. If it is done sooner, just let it stand at room temperature until you are ready to carve. Also, the heritage turkeys I get have very thick skin and a lot of fat in the tail and neck. Remove the fat from these areas, but save the fat. Render it (chop it well, and let it melt slowly in a saucepan over low heat with a little water) and use it! Rub some of the fat over the turkey instead of butter, or use it when making gravy.

What do you do with the turkey carcass?

Diane Morgan: When it is time to clean up and put leftovers away after Thanksgiving dinner, my husband assigns himself the task of "dealing with the turkey." He carefully carves whatever meat is still left on the carcass and arranges it in a container. He also offers to chop the carcass into large chunks and store them in a separate container, and this delights me. Come Friday morning, while I'm shuffling around in slippers and sweat clothes, drinking my coffee, I open the refrigerator and pull out the chopped carcass ready for the stockpot. While some may head for the mall to tackle their Christmas lists, honestly, I'm happier lounging with the newspaper, watching the stock simmer.

For more Thanksgiving advice, visit Diane's website and Rick's website, where you'll find tips, techniques and recipes.

The original article was published November 2010.

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