Michele Kayal

Associated Press

Some people are all about the stuffing. Some can't do without the mashed potatoes. And the debate over marshmallows with the sweet potatoes can stoke family feuds spanning decades. But at the end of the day, Thanksgiving is all about the bird. Because face it, the turkey is the centerpiece. And getting it right — delivering a delicious, perfectly browned, magazine-worthy specimen — presents the holiday's biggest challenge.

To unlock the secrets of roasting a great bird, we asked some of the country's top chefs and food experts the tough questions: To brine or not to brine? High-heat or slow roast? Basted or not? Then we culled their answers to produce our recipe for the ultimate bird, as well as offer you some take-them-or-leave-them weird and wonderful tips for your own perfect turkey.