Thanksgiving is just days away, and if you are a rookie at cooking Thanksgiving dinner, you may have already made a terrible mistake.

A lot of first-time Thanksgiving cooks don’t have an understanding of the length of time it takes to thaw out a good-sized turkey. It is a process that can take several days if done correctly.

The very best way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this is something you’ll want to take slowly. They recommend a full day of thawing for every 4 to 5 pounds.  This means if you have a 16-pound turkey, you should have started to defrost the turkey over the weekend.

If you didn’t, don’t despair.

Although not ideal, there is still a backup plan.  You can thaw out the turkey using cold water.

While the USDA recommends thawing the turkey in a sink full of cold water, while changing the water every 30 minutes per pound, Chef Joe Rego from the Black Whale in New Bedford wouldn’t recommend it.

“The proper defrosting of a turkey is several days in a refrigerator until it is completely thawed," he said. "However, you can put it in a sink and run cool water through it, but you would have to run water through the inside of the turkey because just having the water on the outside of the turkey will not defrost the turkey very quickly. You’re going to have to run water right through the carcass of it.”

Rego says this is a complicated measure because you would need to use some kind of apparatus to keep the turkey upright. The trick is to get that water into the turkey, not just on the outside.

We asked Rego if he’d ever attempt to defrost a turkey in a microwave.  He literally laughed out loud at us.

“As a chef, I would never even consider that,” he said with a laugh.

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