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Old 11-09-2009, 01:18 PM   #11
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While we are on the topic - any suggestions for preparation of the turkey. It is my first thanksgiving on my own. I have never done it so I am completely lost this year.

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Old 11-09-2009, 01:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
First of all, you don't need a 40 pound turkey to feed 30 people. Servings for turkey are calculated at a half pound of turkey per person. That means a 15 pound turkey (whole turkey weight) for 30 people. A serving is considered about 4 ounces per person.

You will have plenty of turkey for all and leftovers if you buy a bird that weighs in the low 20 pound range.
You might consider that with an on-bone turkey, 30-35% is bone and "extras" such as wing tips, neck, tail, gizzards, etc. Then how close can you carve? While rushing to get dinner onto the table, even if the whole turkey is carved, there will inevitably be several pounds of meat left on the bone to be cleaned up afterward. Then, there will also be people who insist on eating only white meat.

You will need more than a 15-20 lb. turkey. You will need two 12-15 lb. turkeys or a turkey and a turkey breast, or a turkey and a ham. Oh, and save me the oyster, down near the base of the wing!

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Old 11-09-2009, 03:06 PM   #13
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I only have one small oven, so put my bird on the BBQ. It frees up my oven for casseroles, bread, pies, etc. My SIL always said she would never eat a BBQ turkey, too dry, but she didn't know the difference when I fed her one!
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Old 11-09-2009, 03:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by KatieFrank View Post
While we are on the topic - any suggestions for preparation of the turkey. It is my first thanksgiving on my own. I have never done it so I am completely lost this year.

If this is your first time stick with either what you know, or with the simple stuff. Turkey and mashed potato and some salad. Possibly pot luck? Turkey is not that hard, just get one of those birds with thermometer thingy sticking out that tells you when the bird is ready. What seasoning do you like on your poultry? Use that, it will make your life easier. Please make sure it includes at least some salt and some pepper. Maybe not as fancy and tasty as some others, but at least you will know that you are not using some fancy herbs that you’ve never heard before and when it comes out of the oven there will be no surprises . To make sure that bird is tender (again for simplicity) get your self a decent bester (sp?). Baste the bird during cooking with a chicken or beef, turkey or vegetable broth. What, you do not have any in the fridge? Not a problem. We are talking simple here, right? Use one of those store-bought ready made canned or carton broth, or use some powder to make some. Listen it is not very fancy, but hey you wanted simple, you got it. Best yet, when you pick up the bird go straight to butcher/sales person in the meat department and ask him/her what to do exactly. Even though by the time you go there we will get you ready, doesn’t hurt to check one last time.

Ok, now you have the bird, the broth, the bester (sp?), the oven, ah, where is your baking/roasting dish? You did not know you need one. Ok, not a problem, right next to the cooler where the turkey was there is a whole bunch of disposable aluminum roasting pans, one of them is perfect for your turkey, and the nicest part no washing after turkey is done, send it straight to the garbage.

Now, as soon as I finish, this people will start throwing shoes at me, so I might as well go and finish telling you what I think. For the first hour keep the turkey tightly covered under foil. And last 15-20 minutes of cooking keep it uncovered so the bird would get a nice tan, so do speak. In the middle of the process it could be loosely covered because you are going to have to baste it anyway. The approximate time of the cooking you will find out from the meat department person, because we do not know yet what kind of bird you will get or how big, there is no telling how long it will take. Different brands will have different suggestions on how long to cook their bird.

P.S. Make sure to take the bird way ahead of time from the freezer if it is frozen, unless you buy the fresh one.
P.P.S. Make sure to take the bag with gizzards from inside the turkey’s cavity before baking.
P.P.P.S. for simplicity consider Not making any stuffing, or at least make stuffing on the side.
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Old 11-09-2009, 06:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lootz View Post
Thanks for the great suggestions. I am definately going to have family bring sides so I'm basically only on the hook for the meat.
If you are doing the meat, you will also want to do the gravy and possibly the dressing/stuffing. You have gotten a lot of good advice here, so I won't add to that, but I will say that if others are bringing sides, it is a good idea to find out what each person is bringing. You don't need 20 green bean casseroles and no mashed potatoes. LOL If you find out early enough, you can suggest alternatives if some are planning on bringing the same thing (some repeats are ok, as you will have a lot of people).

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Old 11-09-2009, 08:02 PM   #16
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I would agree with Andy as he is proved time and again that he knows his stuff, but... We make two twenty pound turkeys every year and normally have 6 to 7 adults and a couple kids. The problem we have is that some of those who come (its complicated so we can't leave them out) seem to take half or more of whatever is left over, and usually all white meat. There are also at least three that won't touch dark meat. Fortunately, nobody in the group except for myself and my daughter know about the oysters, and so we sneak them for ourselves. Simple greed insures that those who paid for the food, and cooked it, get very little left overs. It's discouraging. But as I said, it's complicated.

I don't know what kind of manners your guests have. I hope they are better behaved than those I have to deal with. But two birds will assure you of left overs if you want them. Also, I never use the pop-up timers that come in the birds as they don't activate until the meat reaches 180' or so. When the final temp is that high, the bird is overcooked and very dry. It took me too many years to figure that out.

Invest in a cheap meat thermometer, the kind you can leave in the bird while it's roasting. Insert it into the bird so that the tip is buried in the deepest part of the turkey breast, but no touching the bone. Rub the skin with butter or cooking oil, or olive oil as you prefer, and salt the skin with kosher salt. Place the turkey onto a rack, in a shallow roasting pan and pop it into a 400 degree oven and cook for about 12 minutes per pound. Then check the thermometer every 15 minutes after that until it reads 155' F. Remove the bird and let it rest for twenty minutes. To carve, cut the legs from the body at the hip/thigh joint, and remove the wings at the shoulder joint. Cut the entire breasts away from the carcass by sliding a boning knife along the breastbone and following the bones until the breast is removed. Then slice against the grain of the meat to provide everyone with skin, and very tender and juicy slices. Arrange the breasts side-by-side on a serving platter, with the wings and legs placed at the sides, approximately where they would be on the whole bird.

You can cook the turkey two days ahead if you want, giving you time to do both in the oven. Just make sure to seal the meat in airtight containers, with turkey broth to keep it moist. Then, just reheat on Thanksgiving. If you store the turkey in aluminum pans, you can put the pans directly into the oven and cook them for about 40 minutes and be ready to serve.

Reserve some of the broth for gravy. Boil the necks, livers, and gizzards to make broth for the dressing. If you know anyone who likes liver, take the cooked livers, and place into a blender or food processor with butter, a bit of salt, a bit of garlic powder, and a little onion powder. Process until silky smooth and you have a very tasty liver pate'. The hearts and gizzards are muscle tissue and can be diced and put into the dressing.

And I whole-heartedly agree that others should bring something, like mashed rutabeggas with brown sugar and butter, veggie trays, mashed potatoes, whole wheat dinner rolls, deserts, jello salads, etc.

To make things even easier on you, you can purchase leave-in meat thermometers that are attached to a temperature gauge that stays outside the oven. You set its alarm to go off at a desired temperature (155'F) and walk away and do other things. Then you just don't have to worry about the bird. You can watch TV, or prepare side dishes, or play with the cat... When the alarm goes off, remove the bird from the oven and let it rest.

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Old 11-09-2009, 09:28 PM   #17
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Do you have an electric roaster... The make GREAT turkeys. My brother and I have been using one to roast our turkeys in for the last few years. works Great!!!

I would do a turkey and a ham... variation in the leftovers.
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:44 AM   #18
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My suggestion for the turkey is to use poultry seasoning and either oil or butter to get it brown. It's only DH and I so I stick to simple as well!! I either mix the poultry seasoning in the butter and smother the bird with that or I pour some oil on and then add the seasoning. Now I always cook mine in a roasting pan covered until the last 10-20 minutes to brown the skin but when I first got started, I used a disposable roasting pan and tented it with aluminum foil again, until the end to brown it up. I never baste though some people swear by it!
I love to use the poultry seasoning because I think it is the perfect blend of seasonings and there is no salt in the one that I get (McCormick) so I can add that to my liking.
As far as the gravy, I usually get either a mix or a can and add the drippings to give it a homemade taste. I have horrible luck making my own gravy so I get a little help!!

I have also never used a bird-in thermometer. I have a digital one and stick it in the drumstick to test the temp. You have to let the bird sit for a few after you take it out of the oven to let the juices re-distibute so the temp will go up a little while it's waiting to be carved so take that into consideration when cooking. With that being said, when the bird-in ones pop out, by the time you are ready to eat, the meat is usually pretty dry. A little gravy helps that out if it happens though!!!

The best advice I have to give though is to have fun!! It does not have to be stressful like some people make it out to be. My first turkey was still pink in the middle (though I didn't have a meat thermometer then!) when I carved it so things happen...there is usually a way to fix everything without having to start over again!! Best of luck to you and enjoy cooking!!
You never know if you like something until you try it once. ~Grandpa Walt
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Old 11-17-2009, 09:54 AM   #19
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P.S. Make sure to take the bird way ahead of time from the freezer if it is frozen, unless you buy the fresh one.
P.P.S. Make sure to take the bag with gizzards from inside the turkey’s cavity before baking.[/QUOTE]

Sounds silly but it's probably the best advice you'll hear though not all birds come with the "extras". And if you find that the turkey is still frozen when you go to cook it, fill the sink with cold tap water and stick the bird in that, changing the water every 15-20 minutes so it still stays cold but thaws out at the same time.

You never know if you like something until you try it once. ~Grandpa Walt
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