Some of us are novices and forget to remove the giblets from the bird. Others of us are more experienced, yet still flustered by a slow-thawing bird and the imminent arrival of 12 guests. And a small number of us simply lose our wits entirely when it comes to roasting a whole turkey.
"The most memorable call that I received was from a person who asked 'Does a turkey have one leg that's white meat and another that's dark meat?' " recalls Carol Miller, a supervisor at the Butterball hot line. "But," she adds kindly, "all of us have been there at one point in time."
If you fit any of these categories, help is but a phone call or a click away:
HOT LINES AND WEB SITES
* Butterball Turkey Talk-Line 1-800-323-4848 or www.butterball.com
* U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-800-535-4555
* Reynolds Wrap Kitchens Turkey Information Line 1-800-745-4000 or www.reynoldskitchens.com
* Land O'Lakes Holiday Bake-Line 1-800-782-9606 or www.landolakes.com
* Shady Brook Farms Dial-a-Chef Holiday Hot Line 1-888-723-4468 or www.dialachef.com
* Honeysuckle White Turkey Line 1-800-810-6325 or www.honeysucklewhite.com
* Campbell's Holiday Leftover Hot Line 1-888-453-3868
* Perdue's Thanksgiving Day Hot Line 1-800-473-7383 or www.perdue.com
MORE WEB SITES
* The Washington Post Food Section www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/food Turkey tips, menu ideas and side dishes galore. Available through the end of November.
* ABC News www.abcnews.com Menu and recipe section with tips and suggestions from well-known chefs, turkey quiz, food-safety advice and a calorie counter.
* Better Homes and Gardens www.bhglive.com Cooking tips, menu plans and decorating ideas.
* Cooking.com www.cooking.com Planner, tips, traditional and alternative menus and products.
* Epicurious www.epicurious.com Illustrated tips, theme-menu ideas, vegetarian recipes and wine and beer suggestions.
* National Turkey Federation www.eatturkey.com Purchasing, thawing and roasting tips.
* Reader's Digest www.rdthanksgiving.com Recipes, stories, crafts and activities for kids.
* Starchefs www.starchefs.com Cooking and carving instructions plus simple recipes from well-known chefs and cookbook authors.
TIPS TO CARVING THE TURKEY
1. Grasp the end of the drumstick with one hand. With the other hand, place a well-sharpened knife between the drumstick and the body of the bird. Cut through the skin to the joint. Pulling the drumstick out and back, use the tip of the knife to separate the drumstick from the body.
2. Insert the tines of a long fork in the wing to steady the turkey. Make a long horizontal cut above the wing joint, cutting through to the body frame.
3. Still steadying the turkey with the fork, go halfway up the breast and with the knife slice straight down with an even stroke until you reach the cut above the wing joint.
4. Continue to slice breast meat, starting the cut at a higher point each time.