Nov 21, 2012 4:16 PM by NBC News
(NBC NEWS) - You bought the turkey, now what in the world do you do with it?
The USDA's Turkey hotline has tips for getting your turkey safely to the table by Thanksgiving.
"You're going to have to defrost it in cold water, and it takes about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey," advises USDA food safety expert Diane Van.
To avoid cross-contamination when wrangling with a raw turkey, keep meats separated from other food.
The pop-up timer can be a good indication the bird is ready, but a meat thermometer is the best way to make sure your turkey is cooked completely.
It must read 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Check it in the thigh down between the leg and the breast in that deep crevice. Check it in the wing joint and in the thickest part of the breast," Van explains.
Experts recommend getting leftovers in the fridge within two hours.
That will avoid bacteria growth.
The USDA turkey hotline number is 1-888-674-6854.