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How to not ruin your Thanksgiving turkey

If you've never cooked a turkey, it can be a little intimidating. Chef Dennis Chan shares his tips to cook a turkey perfectly.

If you've seen any Thanksgiving episode of a TV show, you know it is very easy to ruin a turkey. Chef Dennis Chan, owner of the Blue Bamboo on Jacksonville's Southside, shares helpful tips.

Some of Chef Chan's most frequently asked questions and answers:

How big should my turkey be? The Agriculture Department suggests one pound of turkey per person. But you’ll want to to do about 1½ pounds for each diner to allow for leftovers.

How long should you defrost a turkey? Any thawing secrets?
Believe it or not, it takes one day for every 4lbs of turkey, so most frozen turkeys need about a week in the fridge before the big day. For the best results leave the turkey in its packaging and place the breast side up on a rimmed baking sheet at the bottom of the refrigerator. After the turkey is thawed, it can be kept refrigerated for up to four days before cooking.

How long should you cook it and at what temperature?
Cooking times vary based on size, cooking method and whether you stuff the bird or not. For a 20-lb unstuffed turkey, it’ll take approximately 3.5 to 4 hours—but the best way to check is a meat thermometer. It should be 180 degrees in the thigh and 165 to 170 degrees in the breast.

Thoughts on stuffing the bird? That’s the age-old question–some people love stuffing and some do not. It’s perfectly safe to do as long as you check the temperature (if a thermometer inserted in the center of the stuffing registers 165 degrees, then it’s fully cooked). It's better to cook the stuffing on the side, you can cook it perfectly, and everyone can serve it with the turkey.

What’s the ideal temperature for cooking a turkey? When in doubt, Butterball recommends roasting a turkey at 325 degrees throughout the entire cooking time. It makes the cooking process easy.

Blue Bamboo is located at 3820 Southside Boulevard on the Southside of Jacksonville.