By Regine Schlesinger

(CBS) — It’s crunch time for the experts who staff the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, reports from WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger.

“Truly, the turkey is the easiest part of the dinner.” So says Phyllis Kramer,one of the experts taking calls from nervous cooks, worried about their Thanksgiving meal. The vast majority of questions, she says, involve how to thaw a frozen turkey. “People have no concept of a 20-pound piece of meat that they put in the refrigerator overnight or two days in advance and think it will be thawed by Thanksgiving.”

The proper way to thaw the bird: put the turkey, breast-down, in a sinkful of water and change the water every half hour. You need to allow half-an-hour in the water for every pound. For a 24-pound turkey, you’d keep it in the water for 12 hours. She says it doesn’t have to be 12 hours straight. You could soak it for a few hours today, put it back in the fridge and then, soak it again the next day and the day after.

Kramer also says the most important utensil you need is a meat thermometer to check that the turkey is cooked throughout, reaching 180 degrees in the middle part. Unless you’re cooking the stuffing separately, you also have to check to make sure the stuffing is at least 165 degrees.

Over the years she’s gotten some unforgettable calls like the woman who called from a hot tub and wanted to know if she could thaw the turkey in the tub or the young frantic bride. “She’s whispering. She says ‘My mother and my mother-in-law are here and my mother says the turkey’s done and my mother-in-law said it’s not done. I don’t know what to do.'”

The Butterball Turkey Talk Line runs through Christmas Eve at 1-800 BUTTERBALL. It will be operating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day.

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