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Computing turkey size for Thanksgiving


Fat Guy
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How do you compute your Thanksgiving turkey size? There's the pound-per-person issue, the leftovers issue, the extra white meat issue...

We do 2 pounds per person plus 6 pounds to cover the preference for white meat. This formula tends to yield plenty of leftovers too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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For up to six people, I simply pick the biggest bird I can find, since two of these people are guaranteed to include my boyfriend and his brother, who eat like they have holes in their necks. For eight or more people, I'd get a second bird, and not worry about what to do with leftovers (they'd be gone in under three days, thanks to the same two chow hounds). I learned this the first time I roasted a large bird (that one was actually a goose) for six, using a recipe intended for eight to ten people: there was nothing left but the skeleton, which was being picked apart and by gnawed at by the carnivore brothers. From then on, I went with the biggest specimen available.

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It never occured to me to base the size of the turkey on the number of people eating it, which I admit is strange. In fairness, I don't always order the turkey myself, sometimes my FIL picks it up at the farm near them without even asking those who cook it what they want. I find anything under 12 lbs to be not worth the stuffing, and anything over 18 lbs to be unmanageable. That said, with the advent of teenagers and increasing numbers of adults who are no longer strict vegetarians, we've been doing turkeys on the big side the past few years. If there are 7-8 turkey eaters, close to an 18 pounder is enough for next day leftovers plus more, so I guess that's 2 lbs per person plus a few more.

My main motivation for cooking a turkey (other than the the fact that no one else is willing to do it) is the carcass. So for me, big is better. And if there is more meat on the bird than leftovers can deal with, that just makes better soup. If you really have an overwhelming number of white-meat eaters, I guess it is worth the trade-off to undercook the dark meat (whatever is too rare just goes into the soup pot.) That would be my husband's solution if he owned the world. Unfortunately I love falling-off-the bone dark meat, but I'm in the minority. So, as the turkey approaches millenium, swords are drawn. We agree to let one of my SILs be referee. She shakes the leg and delivers her oracle (it was originally her mother's Nashville recipe, even though she doesn't eat turkey any more.) Every single year, she says it needs another half hour, which is probably based on nothing much, but is to my advantage so I can shut up gracefully.

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preference for white meat. This formula tends to yield plenty of leftovers too.

Preference to white meat does not compute. :)

I wish I could buy 2 six pounders for extra leg meat. The smalled birds I can get are 10-12 lb

I have 6 guests and am thinking a 15 lb bird will be just right.

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I think it depends upon what else is being served and, to some extent, how the turkey is cooked. The larger the number of additional dishes and the number of courses will determine how important the turkey is in the entire meal. Once, I fried (not for Thanksgiving) an 11lb bird with four side dishes as part of a five course meal for four people, well beyond the 2lb per person. There was no meat left. Guess things fried are simply better. Just my experience

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I did 1 1/2 lbs per guest for my early Thanksgiving. There were plenty of sides and no leftover turkey, so I'm going to say I probably undershot in my estimate.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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One small turkey per person. That way everyone gets to take home leftover meat AND a carcass.

:wink:

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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