Countdown to Thanksgiving Day: Turkey Talk

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Hello, welcome back to Countdown to Turkey Day. We are getting ready for Thanksgiving without overwhelm. You can catch up on everything covered so far at the bottom of the page, but today we’re talking turkey.

Do you know what size turkey you need to buy?

The amount of turkey you need will depend on the type of turkey you buy.

If you purchase a whole frozen turkey, you can estimate one pound of turkey for each guest if your turkey is a 14-pound bird or smaller. If your turkey is larger than 14 pounds, you can reduce that estimate to 3/4 of a pound. Why? The ratio of bone to meat decreases as the bird gets bigger. In other words, you are getting more meat with a bigger bird. However, when you are cooking your turkey, you need to remember that this is why a really big turkey tends to be drier if it is cooked at a high temperature instead of with a low and slow method like smoking.

If you opt for a boneless turkey breast, you can reduce the estimate of meat-per-person down to two-thirds of a pound per person. While this option is great for not taking up a ton of room in the oven, the trade-off is not having any bones at the end for stock. It’s always something, isn’t it?

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Are you buying a fresh turkey this year?

It’s time to place your order. You want to arrange pick up for no earlier than Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Are you ordering a pre-cooked turkey?

This option can be delicious but pricey. This is what led to Heather caving and buying a smoker. After four turkeys and two pork shoulders, the investment in our smoker was worth it. Plus, it’s nice to have smoked turkey whenever we want.

While many people prefer fresh turkey, many of us, due to schedules or other reasons, will opt for frozen. While enormously convenient, the frozen turkey doesn’t present one major complication: waking up on Thanksgiving day and discovering that the turkey is still frozen.

Thankfully the math to figure out your turkey’s thaw time isn’t too difficult. It’s 24 hours in your refrigerator for every 5 lbs. If you have an 11 – 15 pound bird, you would put it in the fridge early on the Monday before Thanksgiving. For turkeys 10 pounds or smaller, they should go in the refrigerator no later than Tuesday morning. If you have a larger bird, 16 – 20 pounds, put it in the refrigerator on Sunday and 21-25 on Saturday. It is also perfectly fine to give it an extra day to be safe. A thawed turkey can be in the refrigerator for four days.

Have you ever cooked a turkey before? If not, and you plan on roasting it, I strongly suggest you go ahead and practice on a chicken or two. This will be a great dry run and give you a great chance to try your hand at gravy, too. <— That link shows how to make gravy with pan juices, and this link demonstrates how to make pan gravy with stock or broth.

Previously in the Countdown

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