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pass the gravy nine tips to help you survive hosting your first thanksgiving by Yee-Fan Sun | 1 2 3
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2 Don’t forget to thaw the turkey if you’re going with a frozen bird. A frozen turkey takes a long, long time to defrost – after all, that’s a pretty big hunk of mass you’re dealing with there. Under no conditions should you defrost your turkey at room temperature – unless you’re looking forward to food poisoning yourself and all your guests. The bird needs to be transferred from the freezer to the fridge at least 2 days before Thanksgiving, sooner if it’s larger than 10 lbs. Mark it on your calendar folks: this is very, very important, as there is no safe, speedy method of thawing a turkey should you find yourself in the unfortunate predicament of having a rock-solid frozen bird, and guests arriving in six hours.

3 Get yourself a meat thermometer. The easiest way to know when your turkey’s cooked to perfection is to go by temperature. Stick a thermometer into the thickest part of one of the thighs before popping the bird into the oven. When the thermometer reads 180F, your turkey’s ready to come out. Even a fancy thermometer shouldn’t cost you more than $20 or so (I am in love with my Pyrex oven thermometer, which lets you monitor the temperature without opening the oven door, and set it such that a buzzer goes off once you’ve hit the desired temp). A good thermometer is well worth the investment for anyone trying to avoid an over-cooked, bone-dry turkey.

4 Get a headcount so you’ll know how big of a turkey you’ll need. Allot a pound and a half per person to get a good estimate – this should yield enough for generous leftovers as well (and after all, leftovers are a must at any Thanksgiving!)

5 Plan ahead. This goes for just about any party, but at Thanksgiving in particular, where the supermarket lines start to get mighty long the closer you get to the actual day, it’s a good idea to do as much shopping and cooking in advance as possible. Make a to-do list and get yourself organized.

6 There’s always room for one more guest. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, the more the merrier – even if that means dealing with a little less room at the table. My 78" by 39" rectangular dining table comfortably seats eight when fully-expanded, but we’ve been known to cram in as many as a dozen guests, with only a minimum of elbow-knocking. If you’re lacking in adequate table space and seating, borrow an extra table and chairs from a friend, and set it all up the night before. Or skip the formal sit-down meal and do dinner buffet-style, arranging clusters of chairs and offering heaps of floor pillows wherever you can find room in your digs.

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