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GrayFal

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Many of these TUGers are still around - this was originally from 2005!
Pat


Help -
What did you tell us to do last year?
I know it makes the turkey nice and moist
I am using a frozen bird - does this make any difference?
------------------
Pat

No difference at all, unless you're using a kosher bird, which is already kashered. You can still use a weak brine solution with one, however, most find it redundant when using kosher poultry. Brining works well with almost any kind, any brand of poultry. It will make the most succulent roast chicken and Cornish hens you ever ate, so remember the procedure at other times of the year, as well.
Standard brine is 1 cup coarse kosher salt per gallon of water. This produces a medium brine. You should make notes for next holiday if you feel it would taste better with a little more or a little less salt. This is highly individual, so I'm giving you middle-of-the-road proportions.
Soak the bird for 6-8 hours in this solution. If you need to soak it longer (i.e. 6-8 hours would oblige you to get up in the middle of the night - which is for the birds - no pun intended!), then merely cut back the salt by 25% for a 12-14 hour soak.
Someone asked about the inclusion of brown sugar. Unless you like your meat to have a sweet taste (which personally makes me gag!), there is no need. Also, you will have to watch out for premature browning of the skin, as the sugar increases carmelization. The purpose of a brine is to 1) increase the fluid content in the tissues and 2) enhance the flavor of the meat by giving it an evenly seasoned taste. Sugar is unnecessary to the flavor of a properly brined bird. If you do like a touch of sweetness, recognize that it's not to everyone's taste and instead serve and orange or cherry sauce on the side for those who enjoy sweet flavors with their meat.
Use a V-rack to keep the bird up and out of the dripping so the flesh doesn't get incinerated. If you don't have one, you can approximate it by putting wadded-up pieces of tin foil down the center of your roasting pan. You just want to keep the flesh away from direct contact with the steaming hot juices. Start breast DOWN for the first 2 hours. Then turn each leg side up for 1/2 hour, then finally breast up and baste every 20 minutes.
Let the bird rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. The reason is to allow the juices to recirculate and retreat back into the meat tissues. If you cut it right away, you will see juices galore running out. Had you waited, those juices would be in the meat, instead of all over your counter.
This gives you time to do the stuffing and rolls in the oven, anyway. I do not recommend stuffing a bird 1) because it really doesn't contribute anything to the flavor that basting the stuffing cooked separately in a casserole with the juices will not do, 2) it increases the cooking time dramatically, which will often produce overcooked meat by the time the stuffing reaches the requisite 165 degrees (nothing quite so disappointing as vulcanized breast meat on your Thanksgiving piece de resistance!), and 3) significantly increases the risk of proliferation of foodborne pathogens.
Although I do not stuff, I do put a seasoned mirepoix (coarsely chopped mixture of onion, celery and carrot, tossed with sage and thyme - fresh if you can get it) in the cavity. It contributes a lovely flavor to the drippings, which in turn gives your gravy that certain je-ne-sais-quoi. Remove the vegtables when you take the bird out of the oven and either discard or add to the stock pot with the carcass at the end of the meal for fabulous soup.
Just bake the stuffing in a casserole in the oven. If you like it softer, cover for half the time (30 - 45 minutes total will be sufficient), and uncover for half. If you like it to develop a crispy outside, then bake uncovered.
Do not be stingy with the bleach on this holiday, or actually any other day. Keep it by the sink and spritz your water generously with it (several drops will be fine. The water shouldn't smell like bleach, and it shouldn't leave a white print on your jeans if you wipe your hands on them!!) We're talking 30 parts per million here! Wipe up counters with this solution liberally, and let it stay on a minimum of 30 seconds before rinsing.
I get so many requests for this information that it leads me to wonder if there might be some way to archive this for the future...How can we go about having this done?
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--Cat
I respectfully disagree with my esteemed colleagues at Cook's on two points. One, I do not ever rinse before cooking. If you have brined at the proper proportions, there is no need and no point to creating more mess. And two, I do not agree that sugar belongs in a brine solution, except when it is in preparation for smoking, as is done with bacon or hams. The slight, almost imperceptible sweetness offsets the smoked flavor nicely, creating a subtle, pleasing balance.
Consider also, when a meat is smoked, it never has contact with the high external temperatures involved in roasting. When roasting, the caramelization process can render the skin overly brown before the meat is cooked through.
------------------
--Cat
I agree with you Ed, that Cook's really does its homework. It is the best culinary magazine for technique available. However, I have never once had anyone who was not totally wowed by a turkey done in a basic brine (one that does not contain sugar), nor anyone who found it objectionably salty. I'm a stickler for not oversalting, as my palate is super sensitive, so if it works for me, you can be sure there is nothing unsavory about the flavor. If testers found it too salty, I submit that either too much salt was used in the brine, or the bird was left too long in the solution.
Very occasionally, Cook's and I do part ways on small items. I consider this one relatively minor in the scope of things. If they could show me why it is better to add sugar, I would do it. I did, however, show why it can too easily work to a disadvantage.
Generally I subscribe to the KISS school of culinary technique (Keep It Simple, Stupid.) Often, in matters culinary, less is truly more.
Therefore, I suggest trying the brine initially the basic way (coarse kosher salt and water), and if you feel it's lacking something, add sugar the next time. When making additions to your brine, I would suggest trying it out on something small, like a small chicken. Thanksgiving really isn't the time to experiment.
------------------
Cat
**Help!! Does rock salt work? If not where do I get the other stuff????? Also, thanks a million, I forgot to take my turkeys out until I read the title to this post. They are out now. I am smoking one in my littler smoker, and cooking on the old fashioned way. (I'm going to try this brine thing)
**Stupid question ....
I've noticed that on more & more packets of meat products, they say that it contains x% of *a solution* or water & some other products.
Does this mean that they have already done the brining?

Busymom, you can find coarse kosher salt in any grocery store. Look for the section that has kosher/Jewish foods - usually a specialty section. If not there, you will find it with the regular salt. I would not recommend using rock salt, as it's not intended as a food additive, so therefore the cleanliness would be, at least to my mind, suspect.
Marina, many turkeys do have a "solution" injected into them, usually a flavored broth. This is the packer's way of trying to keep turkeys moist when being frozen for long periods and to compensate for the fluid lost in the thawing process. It's not at all like brining, and will have no effect on your brining process. The tissues will uptake all that they possibly can, and it's a lot more than the dilute broth that has been injected. This imparts an evenly seasoned taste throughout, something that injecting a solution can't do.
The only ones that are pre-brined are the Empire Kosher turkeys (may be other kosher brands, as well - not familiar with any others distributed nationwide.) These have been kashered, a process by which salt is introduced into the meat tissues. That is why for several years running, Empire kosher turkeys have come out number one in Consumer Report taste tests.
So fear not if the label says there is an "injected solution." Almost every frozen turkey nowdays has this feature.
------------------
--Cat
**Cat - What are your thoughts about doing the brine soak in the evening then taking it out of the brine and putting it in the refrigerator overnight? Must be a way to avoid the early wake up call to give the bird a bath.
**I can answer that one because Cat already told me. If you let it sit in the refrigerator it will defeat the purpose of the brining. So, if you don't want to get up at 2 a.m. to start your soak, cut back on the salt by 1/4 and soak for longer.
Cat, if you do get to this thread again and can suggest a nice gravy mixture to make out of the drippings of a brined turkey, I would much appreciate it!!
Sharon

OMG, This is done OUTSIDE the refrigerator!!!!
So I am putting the bird in a garbage bag with salt water in the sink overnight?
PLMK, quick! I am sautéing the sausage for the dressing!!!Be Back!
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Pat
Listen to Sharon - she knows whereof she speaks!
The proportions I gave are for a 6-8 hour soak. If you need to do a 12 hour one, just cut back by 25% on the salt.
As for gravy, I like to take the giblets (make sure to discard the liver, but everything else is fair game), the neck and the wing tips (cut them off before roasting) along with some mirepoix (see above) and a bay leaf, cover them with water and let them simmer gently while the turkey is in the oven.
When the turkey is done, strain the liquid (you can cut up the giblets and throw them back in, if that's your pleasure) and set aside.
For each cup of gravy, use 2 Tb drippings and 2Tb flour for a thinner gravy, 3 Tb for a thicker one, 4 for one that's like REALLY thick, all stirred together. Cook over medium for about 4-5 minutes. This is your roux. This step cooks off the raw flour flavor so that your gravy doesn't taste gummy.
Let it bubble, stirring, until it starts to color. I like it to become a nice chestnut color, but if it has just started to color, that's fine, too. Take it off the heat and whisk in your liquid gradually, a half cup at a time. The first addition is the critical one where you need to get it whisked in thoroughly so there are no lumps. The second one is a little easier, and each successive addition is easier still.
When it's all whisked in (you can add canned chicken broth if you want to make more gravy than you have liquid), bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Let it simmer for at least 2 minutes. Taste for additions of salt and/or pepper.
And that's it. Velvety, lump-free gravy.
If you have a problem getting the liquid to whisk completely into the roux and you find lumps, all is not lost. Just strain the gravy at the end into the gravy boat. Throw the lumps in the strainer down the disposal and no one need be any the wiser.
If it's not thick enough for you, you have two options. One, you can just let it simmer long enough to evaporate some of the excess liquid, or you can make a smooth paste out of some flour and (cool - not hot) chicken broth or water and whisk it in vigorously. Be sure to simmer for at least 5 minutes to cook off the raw flour that you just introduced.
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--Cat
IP
Pat, take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Repeat after me: "This turkey is going to be great, this turkey is going to be great..."
What Sharon meant is if you take it out of the brine and just refrigerate it, it will leach out the liquid that the flesh has uptaken in the brining process.
It's perfectly great to put the bucket in which you're soaking your turkey in the fridge. Actually, it's so cold here that we're just going to leave it in the garage! It's like a huge walk-in. Good thing, since the fridge is overflowing and finding a spot for the brining bucket would be a real accomplishment!
"This turkey is going to be great..."
------------------
--Cat
 

GrayFal

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I am breathing slowly and deeply...the bird will be the best!
Since my Turkey is still a little frozen...I think some quality time outside the frig is just what it needs......
On to the brussel sprouts!

*****do your brine in the refrigerator and it can be cut down to 4 hours. Now in the brine the turkey will take up both moisture and very importantly flavors, so now is a great time to introduce a flavor punch to the bird, in the brine replace a couple quarts of the water with chicken stock up to a gallon of chicken or vegetable stock is good, crush some pepper kernels oh a tablespoons full and throw that in, also 1/2 tablespoon of allspice berries and crushed ginger are goodies to add. Let it soak for 6-8 hours and cook it right away. Step by step turkey cooking on www.foodtv.com/holidays/thanksgivingturkeywalk/0,6849,,00.html

Refrigerating has absolutely no bearing on the timing of a brining. Optimally, the brined bird should be refrigerated or held in a cold place during the brining.
This website's "recipe" for a brine is very labor-intensive. In fact, I'd call it as much an aromatic marinade as a brine.
Personally, I don't find such gyrations necessary in order to produce a delicious turkey. Don't know about anyone else, but I have enough going on when putting Thanksgiving dinner together that keeping it simple is highly desirable. Brining is a very simple process. It always confounds me when someone takes a simple culinary technique and reinvents it into something complex.
However, as the French say, "Chaqu'un a son gout"...
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--Cat

Well, the brined bird went in the oven, unstuffed, at 10:30 a.m. eastern. He didn't seem to mind his salty bath one bit ..... can I relax now!
Thanks Cat, for all your help......Happy Thanksgiving to ALL
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Pat

***We'll following your brineing technique this Turkey-Day.
But we won't be starting the bird breast-side down... then 1-leg up... followed by the other leg up, etc.
It's a 22 Pound'er and I can't see having to flip it once it's in the oven and HOT With my luck, it'll end up on the floor
To compensate for not flipping it...
we'll use the oven's "convection" feature.
Thanks... Doug

LOL, Doug!! I use rubber gloves for when I have to turn. Our bird this year was the same size, and I have done it with 28 pounders!
The sides aren't as crucial as starting it breast down is. This ensures that when the juices start flowing, they flow down toward the breast.
Pat, I hope it goes well and you have a fabulous T-day and the most succulent bird your family has ever eaten!
------------------
--Cat
But, but, but.....
Wouldn't the juices flow back down toward the back when the bird ends breast-up ?

****Happy Thanksgiving Cat (and all fellow TUGgers)!
I've been brining my turkey's for years now and am getting closer to "my" perfect brine.
One thing I wanted to share was that this year I ordered a free range hormone free bird. Hense, the bird was MUCH tougher since he was able to walk around and had not been injected with all kinds of hormones to make it's meat tender, etc. (Yeah, I know...what took me so long to find using the free range turkey and swith....)
Bottom line on my turkey...it needs to cook longer than a normal grocery store turkey. My turkey turned out one of the best I've ever made but it sure thew off the "timing" for the rest of the veggie's etc...but EVERY turkey day I learn something new which I add to my "book" (I use for great recipes plus I add notes on time saving tips, etc). I also think I could have left it in the brine just a little longer because of the density of the meat (mine was in for about 4 to 4 1/2 hrs). Oh...another experiment for the next turkey!! :)
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my Tugger family! Leftovers are what all that prep is for! I give "care" packages to all my family so I know that they can wake up to mashed potatoe "cakes" for breakfast and/or that first turkey sandwich with dressing, etc.
My family calls me the Thanksgiving Queen...to you'all I'm just Kathy
Happy Thanksgiving!

Cat is right on the button. I have been brining for the past 4 years. My then 15 year old daughter converted from dark meat to white. Used a brown sugar solution to brine last year and it was not as good as the salt only solution. KISS works great.
Breast side down is important. I do this with my convection oven also.
One thing I do is I look at all my recipes the day before and then place name and cooking times, temperature, etc on post its. I also put on post it the approximate time I need to start that item. Post its go on the wood panel next to the oven, microwave, or the gas top range. Friends and family are surprised by my yellow decorations in the kitchen, and are even more surprised that I can provide a hot dinner for 20 at the appropriate time without delay and panic.
------------------
geo

Geo!!
That is so me. I label all my dishes for what they are going to contain. I have a pad that I record my prep's and when they should come out plus set timers.
This year was different due to the free range turkey but I have had NOTHING but complements from my family with my new turkey...and believe me my family can be brutaly honest (after the meal of course). :) Now I've just some fine tuning and turkey day will be as perfect as it can be. I know that something AlWAYS goes wrong...but that's part of the fun.
Yummy leftovers! Gobble gobble!
Kathy

But, but, but.....
Wouldn't the juices flow back down toward the back when the bird ends breast-up ?

Yes, Doug, they do, but enough have been sealed into the breast tissues when the protein denatures during the cooking process that they won't retreat. When the protein is uncooked, what has been absorbed in the brining process can be easily coaxed out. Just let your brined bird sit out before cooking for a couple of hours, and you'll see what I mean (But if you want to conduct this experiment, be certain to put the bird on a tray. You're going to need it!)
When the protein strands in the flesh denature, as they do when heat is applied and the cooking process takes place, the fluid is held between the strands. The tendency is for this to happen most noticeably toward the outside, or the part closest to the heat source. This is why giving the bird a resting period out of the oven causes them to recirculate evenly throughout the flesh.
Incidentally, this resting process is necessary with any meat that is roasted. This principle is best demonstrated with a beef roast that is cooked medium or rare. If you cut it straight out of the oven, the outside will be grayish to slightly brownish, while the inside will be very red for rare (almost raw looking) and hot pink for medium. The same roast, if allowed to rest at least 20 minutes, will be evenly colored throughout, and will eliminate the grayish outside of the slice, that is so often seen in restaurant prime rib.
------------------
--Cat
IP
Stuffing
Any ideas?
Following Cat's directions, I will cook mine out of the bird using some of the juice from the pan and checken broth.
I have cornbread stuffing, low fat (lol) chicken broth, sauted sausage, mushrooms, chopped celery, apples and onions.
What are you doing?
------------------
Pat
I'm using (in addition to the bread, of course) chestnuts (love them!), celery, onions, mushrooms, and a little thyme and rosemary. I just wish I had one of those easy bread cubers!!
Sharon

Mine comes out of a box, it's called Stove Top
I do some alterations such as adding mushrooms, and I cook it in the oven instead of on top. My husband makes the giblet gravy from canned chicken broth (low fat), eggs, and giblets. Believe it or not, most people love it. I don't use all the seasonings in a box, makes it too strong tasting. We love Stove Top.

A little bit off topic, but the title of this thread brought a smile to my face. One of the Seattle "landmarks" is an establishment called The Lusty Lady, a stripper venue across the street from the Seattle Art Museum and next to some of the swankiest condos downtown. The LL is known for their clever, double entendre signs (as well as for being a cooperative owned by the "dancers").
Anyway, I had to laugh yesterday when I was downtown at the Pike Place Market - the sign read, "Our birds have no dressing." I thought it was very clever.
------------------
Steve Nelson

Thanks Pat, I almost forgot to take the sausage out of the freezer when I read this.
My husband says that not to stuff the turkey because the internal temp is lower than the external temp and is a breeding ground for bacteria from the cavity drippings. So I am going to cook it in a seperate dish. We are feeding 14 including our son's girlfriend and her family. This is a first for us.
Hope everyone has a nice holiday with their families! I woke up to snow today and we are supposed to get 7 inches more. PC Girl

Sharon, did you know it's not necessary to cube the bread? Consider what stuffing looks like when the liquid is added and everything is stirred around. The "cubes" are pretty indistinct. Just shred the bread by hand (VERY fast!) and you're in business.
PCGirl's husband is right (see the turkey brining thread for more info). Please, PLEASE consider abandoning the technique of placing the stuffing inside the bird.
Another one that still pops up now and then is cooking your turkey in a brown, paper bag. DON'T DO THIS!! It came about when bags were merely made of paper. Nowdays, grocery bags are manufactured with the addition of chemicals which will leach out during the cooking process - very dangerous, and completely unnecessary.
As for stuffing, Pat, ours is one made with rice cooked in savory broth, then combined with sauteed celery, onion, apples, sausage, mushrooms and flavored liberally with Madeira.
------------------
--Cat

Around here, people put chopped hard-boiled eggs in their stuffing and in their gravy!! Ewwww.
------------------
Mary

I just got home from work and all your answers gave me a laugh!
I think I will take a little of what everyone is doing and mix it together!
Special thanks to Cat for her ongoing help....wish me luck!
------------------
Pat

GinGin, do you mean chopped eggs as suggested by Mary...that seems a little weird. Sharon, I LOVE chestnuts but no one else does And a litle wine sounds good - but I REALLY like Grey Goose Vodka , is there anyplace to sneak that in ?
Pat

Oysters- I use unseasoned stuffing cubes, chucken broth celery, onions, sage and oysters.
I agree about the hard boiled eggs- but it seems to be popular with some groups here, too.
------------------
Marion
IP
Pat, yes chopped boiled eggs. My mother, who was a great cook, made her dressing from scratch with homemade cornbread, at least day old white bread and biscuits. She put everything in it but the kitchen sink In the south, most people put chopped boiled eggs in their dressing and their giblet gravy.
BTW, as you can see with my boxed Stove Top stuffing I did not inherit a love of cooking or expertise from my mother
 

Carol C

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Many of these TUGers are still around -
Pat


Not GinGin! :ignore:
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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does anyone remember what GinGin was excommunicated for? -ken
For conduct unbecoming a human being.

-----

[added]: I don't see any reason to delve into specifics, and I think my description above summarizes events (both hither and yonder) quite well.
 
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tashamen

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GrayFal

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bump :wave:
 

GrayFal

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It's that time of the year again.....from a master chef.
 

GrayFal

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Pat, what about Cat, is she still around? I remember she was quite ill, but that was a long time ago. Elli
I am afraid I do not know....she was having health issues, had made a move to the south that she then was not happy with and has not posted for a long time.
A very lovely lady - and a wonderful chef.
 

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Cat still lurks on TUG - you can still send her a pm.
 

Conan

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2010 bump!
 

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I contacted Cat about a year ago, and she moved on from TUG for personal reasons. I still miss her, and I miss those days on TUG.

She was a great TUG chef-advisor, as well as a terrific scout for scuba sightings.
 

GrayFal

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Yes, it is that time of year...
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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this thread is overdue for its annual bump.
 

M. Henley

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Hey!!

What about TonyG's boiled pizza? Has everyone forgotten how popular that was at Slimey Slough?
It may be that overindulgence in this delicacy caused GinGin to reach a somewhat addled state, but I suppose we will never know the particulasrs.
:eek:
 

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I met Cat for lunch a couple of years ago, but probably haven't spoke with her in a year or more. The time just seems to slip by. Her husband had accepted a job up north after having no success in finding suitable employment in Florida. He was commuting back/forth and Cat was remaining in Florida. There home was badly damaged in a hurricane shortly after they moved to Florida. My guess is she's moved back up north. She's a very nice person. I'll have to see if I can contact her at the last phone number I had.
 

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What about TonyG's boiled pizza? Has everyone forgotten how popular that was at Slimey Slough?
It may be that overindulgence in this delicacy caused GinGin to reach a somewhat addled state, but I suppose we will never know the particulasrs.
:eek:
Melvin- tonyg and I exchange semi-annual emails (LOL). I do miss many of the old members including you!
 

T_R_Oglodyte

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Used Cat's brining suggestions up top to great success this year.

Brined as suggested. Beautified the bird with the butter/sage/rosemary/thyme blend suggested by Trader Joe's, and slow cooked in the barbecue for seven hours with hickory chips in the smoker box. Breast-side down for two hours, then breast side up for the remainder.

Came out wonderfully.
 

theo

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Rebranded, but still terminally obnoxious...

...caused GinGin to reach a somewhat addled state...
GinGin is actually still around, now as "JayJay" over in the (sadly lame) discussion forums of RedWeek.com.

Her removal from that site was also enthusiastically suggested to RedWeek moderators by other posters there, but GinGin / JayJay (...apparently names of her cats) has evidently survived those recommendations, at least for now. Those posters who had openly recommended her permanent removal from the RedWeek forums have themselves instead apparently just quit participating in those forums at all...
 
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GrayFal

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Bump....better late then never...:whoopie:
 
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