24 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Roasting a Turkey

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Carving the whole bird all at once

Unless you’ve got extra guests or a very small bird, leave some meat on the carcass. It will stay moister if you need more helpings, and it’s easy enough to remove for the leftover Tupperware later.

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Wasting the carcass and bones

Save all the turkey bones and that hulking carcass. They make intensely flavorful stock to use for soups, rice dishes, ramen, and other purposes. If you’ve had enough cooking for the next few days, put everything into large freezer bags and freeze it until you have time to make the stock.

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Keeping leftovers that have been out too long

For some, Thanksgiving leftovers are the best part of the meal. The USDA, however, warns against saving any turkey, gravy, or stuffing that has sat out on the sideboard or the table for more than two hours, as bacteria may have begun to grow on them. If they don’t get devoured quickly, you can always take these items back to the kitchen and loosely tent them with aluminum foil until seconds are needed.

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Worrying too much

Yes, there’s a lot to think about when you’re cooking a holiday turkey, and yes, you might make some rookie mistakes. Ultimately, though, as long as you don’t put raw meat on the table, everything will be all right. The point of Thanksgiving dinner is to share a table with family and/or friends and give thanks for the year’s blessings — while eating entirely too much delicious, traditional food. Is the turkey a little dry? That’s what the gravy and cranberry sauce are for. Does the meat look like it’s been through a wood-chipper? As long as there’s plenty of it, people probably won’t care. You’ve worked hard and you’re surrounded by those who mean a lot to you, so relax now and enjoy the holiday.