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Thread: what size of turkey should I get?

  1. #1
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    what size of turkey should I get?

    Dh is always afraid we wont have any leftovers. turkey. So what size should I buy that feeds 8 adults and lots of leftovers?

    TIA

    laurie

  2. #2
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    I think a 16-18 lb. turkey will be plenty, and you'll have enough leftovers for a few days (the best part)!!

  3. #3
    I think Laurielee is right, 18-20 pounds sounds good. Of course, some people have posted they have been known to roast a 20 pound turkey for 2. Another choice would be to roast a smaller turkey, plus a turkey breast.

  4. #4
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    I've always believed what I heard long ago: that if you have the oven room, you're better off doing two smaller birds, say a couple ten or twelve pounders rather than a twenty or twenty-four, because the bigger the bird, the bigger the bones, therefore proportionately less meat.

    Bob

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobmark226
    I've always believed what I heard long ago: that if you have the oven room, you're better off doing two smaller birds, say a couple ten or twelve pounders rather than a twenty or twenty-four, because the bigger the bird, the bigger the bones, therefore proportionately less meat.

    Bob

    Hmmm... thanks for that thought Bob! I was looking at getting a 20 pounder this year, maybe I'll see if my roasting pan will hold two smaller birds instead.
    Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
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  6. #6
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    I think I will go for around and 18 pound one then. I did hear somewhere you dont want turkeys over 20# because they are not as tenders

    Laurie

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobmark226
    I've always believed what I heard long ago: that if you have the oven room, you're better off doing two smaller birds, say a couple ten or twelve pounders rather than a twenty or twenty-four, because the bigger the bird, the bigger the bones, therefore proportionately less meat.

    Bob
    I hate to contradict you, but I think the opposite is true. Other turkey-related posts over the last month have said that, too: people have complained that when they made a 10-12 pounder, they had way too much bone on a scrawny bird. My mom, Turkey Expert Extraordinaire, has rarely made less than a 22-pounder, so that you get more bang for your buck: tons of meat, less bone, and leftovers for later. So I'd recommend a huge bird and lots of freezer bags . Larger birds are only not tender if you don't pay attention to the breast meat. Just start out for most of the roasting time with foil on the bird, and be sure to let the turkey rest for a good 30 minutes before you carve it. You'll also do better with an unstuffed bird, as stuffing increases cooking time and can therefore cause dried-out breast meat. Be sure to brush melted butter all over the turkey b4 roasting, and when you're handling it, try very hard not to tear the skin (which locks in juices).
    If you're afraid of butter, use cream. ~~ Julia Child

    As you cook, you enjoy omniscience about food that no amount of label reading can match. Having retaken control of the meal from the food scientists, you know exactly what is in it. (Unless you start w/cream of mushroom soup, in which case all bets are off.) To reclaim control over one's food, to take it back from industry & science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time, cooking from scratch qualifies as subversive. ~~ Michael Pollan

  8. #8
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    we got a turkey 15lbs turkey for 5 people - should be more than enough, i guess

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by testkitchen45
    I hate to contradict you, but I think the opposite is true. Other turkey-related posts over the last month have said that, too: people have complained that when they made a 10-12 pounder, they had way too much bone on a scrawny bird.
    I agree with you. With a 10-12 pound bird you should figure on 1 pound per person. The larger birds you figure 3/4 pound person as the larger birds actually produce more meat.

    The rule of thumb to allow for leftovers is about 1.3 pounds per person.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  10. #10
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    Sorry, I don't agree with either of you, having done this both ways. Never mind the increased oven time involved or that a larger bird isn't going to cook as evenly, either, without a lot of special steps taken (brining, if you have the space that large to store the beast, butter soaked cheese cloth, etc).

    And while an oversized bird makes for a grand presentation, so does an intact bird surrounded by the meat from the other, not to mention that the meat from the untouched one is going to be better if you don't get to it and it remains on the bone for leftovers. (How many times have folks said they love the sides and could care less about the turkey?)

    I suspect, though, that the questioning poster isn't thinking my direction anyhow, so it's a moot point.

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobmark226
    Sorry, I don't agree with either of you, having done this both ways. Never mind the increased oven time involved or that a larger bird isn't going to cook as evenly, either, without a lot of special steps taken (brining, if you have the space that large to store the beast, butter soaked cheese cloth, etc).

    And while an oversized bird makes for a grand presentation, so does an intact bird surrounded by the meat from the other, not to mention that the meat from the untouched one is going to be better if you don't get to it and it remains on the bone for leftovers. (How many times have folks said they love the sides and could care less about the turkey?)

    I suspect, though, that the questioning poster isn't thinking my direction anyhow, so it's a moot point.

    Bob
    I imagine it has to do with what you're used to, kind of like the old story about the mom who always cut the ends off the ham, as her mom did . . . when questioned, she didn't know how it made it taste better, and she found that her mom had always done it b/c her pan was too small for the ham!

    Mom trained me, so to speak, on huge turkeys, and we haven't had a dry one yet. In fact, the moistest one we ate was actually forced to rest closer to 50 minutes b/c we were making gobs of gravy; the extra time must have improved the meat even more. I suspect that no matter what size you get, if you follow basic roasting and resting steps, you'll be fine--something that thousands of novice cooks are doing every Thanksgiving without a problem. I've never used a butter-soaked cheesecloth, but am sure from experience that my humongous bird will be just fine next week.

    (Assuming the behemoth defrosts in time! )
    If you're afraid of butter, use cream. ~~ Julia Child

    As you cook, you enjoy omniscience about food that no amount of label reading can match. Having retaken control of the meal from the food scientists, you know exactly what is in it. (Unless you start w/cream of mushroom soup, in which case all bets are off.) To reclaim control over one's food, to take it back from industry & science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time, cooking from scratch qualifies as subversive. ~~ Michael Pollan

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by testkitchen45
    I imagine it has to do with what you're used to......(Assuming the behemoth defrosts in time! )
    I grew up on Monsters.

    Your last statement adds another negative note. I wouldn't use a frozen turkey these days, given the easy availablity of fresh.

    Just different strokes...

    Bob
    PS. Either going up to the great Bear Cafe for that bird this year, or doing one of Hannaford's newly introduced rolled Turduchens, though I've already earned a free frozen bird from my favorite market.

  13. #13
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    well I am in the doghouse . I bought an 18# turkey for 9 people, all adults, 2 of them that eat like a bird. and guess what, I have very little left over barely enough to make sandwiches for 4 people yesterday. DH will never let me forget this one!

    Laurie

  14. #14
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    Laurie,
    I bought a 21 pounder for 5 adults and there was plenty left over for sandwiches. There was very little dark meat, DH's portion , so that was a disappointment but then birds are bred for white meat.

    My biggest problem was that it was a fresh turkey that was actually still frozen when I pulled it out Thursday morning. It seems, according to my DS with the Ag degree, that a turkey can be sold as fresh as long as the core/cavity hasn't been frozen! It totally screwed up the timing for the rest of the dishes! :mad:
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles
    Laurie,
    My biggest problem was that it was a fresh turkey that was actually still frozen when I pulled it out Thursday morning. It seems, according to my DS with the Ag degree, that a turkey can be sold as fresh as long as the core/cavity hasn't been frozen! It totally screwed up the timing for the rest of the dishes! :mad:
    I had to hunt down a fresh turkey that was decent sized, and went to brine it and was stunned that it was icey. I paid twice as much for the fresh bird, and suspect that I was simply paying for thawing time. :mad:
    Merry: I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip.
    Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?


    I'm food bloggin' almost daily at Tummy Treasure!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrswaz
    I had to hunt down a fresh turkey that was decent sized, and went to brine it and was stunned that it was icey. I paid twice as much for the fresh bird, and suspect that I was simply paying for thawing time. :mad:
    This is often done to all kinds of meats.

    Even though I reside in a gulf coast state, seafood is often imported from overseas, thawed, and sold as fresh.

    Beware that shrimp marked "gulf coast shrimp" doesn't necessarily mean that it was caught in the Gulf of Mexico. It could have been caught in the gulf in Southeast Asia.

  17. #17
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    My fresh turkey was partially frozen too. Luckily DH noticed it when I bought it and took it out early to thaw .


    Laurie

  18. #18
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    I made 2, 13 lb turkeys for 10 pus 4 children. I roasted one on Wednesday, cut it up and put it in a crockpot with the skin on top. Refrigerated the pot. On Thursday I put the crockpot on low and added a little bit of chicken broth (canned). It held beautifully and was moist and delicious. This is my new way that I will do again. It is also easier finding smaller turkeys.

    Sami
    Don't give up, Moses was once a basket case.

  19. #19
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    In all the years that I have been buying fresh turkeys (this year was my first to buy frozen), I have NEVER had it NOT frozen in the cavity. So I saved $ this year by watching the sales, and buying my frozen behemoth on Wednesday (8 days b4 T'g) at 1/3 of the price, w/ plenty of time to defrost it. My good friend was doing her first turkey this year; I warned her to check the cavity on the morning of the day b4 preparation b/c of the likelihood of ice inside--she was glad she checked, as her "fresh" turkey was frozen inside also!

    As far as what size turkey to get, my experience with a 25.83-pounder this year (took 8 HOURS, 45 MINUTES to cook! thank God I did it on Wednesday! but no, it wasn't dry) and with smaller birds is that I'd always go with a 20- to 23-pounder, and freeze the leftovers if you have too many. Smaller than 20, and you've gone to a lot of effort for few leftovers; bigger than 23, and your turkey will take forever to cook.
    If you're afraid of butter, use cream. ~~ Julia Child

    As you cook, you enjoy omniscience about food that no amount of label reading can match. Having retaken control of the meal from the food scientists, you know exactly what is in it. (Unless you start w/cream of mushroom soup, in which case all bets are off.) To reclaim control over one's food, to take it back from industry & science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time, cooking from scratch qualifies as subversive. ~~ Michael Pollan

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