To prepare a bird for roasting, follow these steps.

Because birds vary in size and shape, use the times as general guides.

1. If desired, rinse a whole bird thoroughly on the outside as well as inside the body and neck cavities. Pat dry with paper towels. If desired, sprinkle inside of the body cavity with salt.

2. For an unstuffed bird, if desired, place quartered onions and celery in body cavity. Pull neck skin to back and fasten with a skewer. If a band of skin crosses tail, tuck drumsticks under band. If there is no band, tie drumsticks to tail. Twist wing tips under the back. To stuff a bird (do not stuff duckling or goose), just before cooking spoon some stuffing loosely into the neck and body cavities. Fasten neck skin and secure the drumsticks and wings as for an unstuffed bird.

3. Place bird, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan; brush with cooking oil and, if desired, sprinkle with a crushed dried herb, such as thyme or oregano. (When cooking a domestic duckling or goose, use a fork to prick skin generously all over and omit cooking oil.) For large birds, insert a meat thermometer into center of one of the inside thigh muscles. The thermometer should not touch the bone.

4. Cover Cornish game hen, pheasant, squab, and whole turkey with foil, leaving air space between bird and foil. Lightly press the foil to the ends of drumsticks and neck to enclose bird. Leave all other types of poultry uncovered.

5. Roast in an uncovered pan. Two-thirds through roasting time, cut band of skin or string between drumsticks. Uncover bird the last 45 minutes of roasting for larger birds or the last 30 minutes of roasting for smaller birds. Continue roasting until the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F in thigh muscle (check temperature of thigh in several places) or until drumsticks move easily in their sockets and juices run clear. Center of stuffing should register 165 degrees F. (For a whole or half turkey breast, thermometer should register 170 degrees F.) Remove bird from oven; cover. Allow whole birds and turkey portions to stand for 15 minutes before carving. (For more oven temperatures and roasting times download the chart below. Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

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