20 to 24 servings
Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for giblet gravy, if desired. Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water; pat dry. Combine salt and pepper; sprinkle over surface and in cavity of turkey. Saute celery and onion in 1/2 cup butter until tender. Combine sauteed vegetables, croutons, rice, water chestnuts, and poultry seasoning in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Stuff dressing into cavity of turkey, and close cavity with skewers. Tie ends of legs to tail with string or tuck them under flap of skin around tail. Lift wing-tips up and over back so they are tucked under bird securely. Brush entire bird with about 1/4 cup melted butter; place breast side up on a rack in roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in breast or meaty part of thigh, making sure it does not touch bone. Bake at 325°F until meat thermometer registers 185°F (about 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours); baste turkey frequently with pan drippings. If turkey gets too brown, cover lightly with aluminum foil. When turkey is two-thirds done, cut the cord or band of skin holding the drumstick ends to the tail; this will ensure that the inside of the thighs is cooked. Turkey is done when drumsticks are easy to move. Transfer turkey to serving platter. Let stand 15 minutes before carving. Garnish with fruit, nuts, and parsley.
If turkey and dressing are prepared in advance, refrigerate separately and stuff just prior to cooking. After serving, remove dressing from turkey cavity as soon as possible. Cool meat and dressing promptly, and refrigerate separately.
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