Welcome to the Well Seasoned Gourmand’s Thanksgiving Show
Thanksgiving is the Number two holiday for Americans right behind Christmas. It is definitely the biggest eating holiday. We have listed some interesting facts, tips and tricks, and some great places to purchase items to make your Thanksgiving holiday the best it can be.
Some Turkey Facts:
- 88% of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
- 46 million turkeys are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas and 19 million turkeys on Easter.
- A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
- In 1941, Congress decided that the fourth Thursday in November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and a federal legal holiday
- 79% of Americans surveyed who said eating Thanksgiving leftovers is more important than eating their regular Thanksgiving meal.
- The average number of calories Americans consume on Thanksgiving is 4,500, according to the Calorie Control Council. That’s 3,000 for the meal, and another 1,500 for snacking and nibbling.
- Americans consume 736 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day alone (about the weight of the Empire State Building).
- About 50 million pumpkin pies are consumed each Thanksgiving
- 40 million green bean casseroles are made each year (Thank you Campbell’s Soup for your generous contribution to society).
Butterball Hotline: 1-800-BUTTERBALLor 1-800-288-8372
Since 1981 the Butterball hotline has been answering every kind of question you could possibly have about cooking a turkey. On Thanksgiving Day alone, Butterball receives around 10,000 calls. Of these 10,000 calls, there is one question that the talk line experts receive more than any other: MY TURKEY IS STILL FROZEN, WHAT CAN I DO?
Fresh or Frozen?
If you are buying a commercial turkey, it really doesn’t matter. It really is based on preference and convenience.
How big of a turkey should you buy?
According to the Butterball FAQs, if you are feeding big eaters serve 2lbs of turkey and 2 cups of stuffing per adult and ½ lb of turkey and ½ cup of stuffing per child. This will also leave some leftovers. For lighter eaters, 1 ½ lbs of turkey and 1 ½ cups of stuffing per adult and ½ lb turkey and ¼ cup of stuffing per child.
How long to thaw?
It takes 1 day per 4 pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator so a 20 pound turkey would take 5 days. If pressed for time you can use a cold water bath which takes about 1 hour per 2 pounds of turkey. Thawing in the refrigerator is the preferable way to thaw a turkey. If you must thaw the turkey quickly, thaw breast side down in unopened wrapper in a container big enough to cover turkey completely with cold water.. Change the water every 30 minutes. If turkey cannot be covered completely with water, rotate every 30 minutes to keep it chilled.
How long to cook turkey?
Times are for open pan roasting at 325 degrees. A 20 pound unstuffed turkey should cook for 3 ½ – 4 hours and a stuffed turkey should cook for 4 ½ – 5 hours. A 16 pound unstuffed turkey should cook for 3 – 3 ½ hours and a stuffed one for 3 ¾ – 4 ½ hours. The temperature of the stuffing should reach 165 degrees and the thigh is supposed to be 180 degrees. Don’t worry about the breast temp if the other two are good. Thermometers should be placed close to the thigh bone but not touching it.
What are Giblets?
Giblets are the heart, liver and gizzard of the turkey. These parts should be removed from the turkey cavity before cooking but can be used to make rich, flavorful gravy. Also make sure you remove the neck from the turkey before cooking as well.
Stuffed or Unstuffed?
Again, this is a matter of preference. An unstuffed turkey cooks faster but as any stuffing aficionado will tell you, the stuffing from the bird is the best. At our house, we always stuff the bird but also make a pan of stuffing separate as you never get enough stuffing from just the bird. If you do not stuff the turkey with traditional stuffing, you can use the opportunity to use aromatics such as lemon, herbs, and fruit in the cavity. NEVER stuff the turkey the night before. If you are not cooking the stuffing in the bird, here is a few tricks to make your pan stuffing better.
Brine or Not?
Do you really need to brine your turkey? Well, that depends on the type of turkey you have. Many commercial turkeys are pre-basted or self-basted which means it is injected with broth, spices, seasoning, flavor enhancers, and it may contain some salt. The maximum added weight of approximately 3 percent solution before processing is included in the net weight on the label. The label must also include a statement identifying the name of all the ingredients in the solution. If the turkey has absorbed too much salt— the salt will draw moisture out of the flesh defeating the whole purpose of brining and/or pre-basting.
Once you’ve selected your brine recipe you’ll need to start with a fresh or completely thawed turkey.
- The night before roasting, remove the giblets and turkey neck. Rinse the turkey inside and out.
- Prepare your brine. Mix ingredients until all of the salt is dissolved. If your brine is heated, cool it to room temperature before adding the turkey.
- Place your turkey, breast down, in a large container made of food-grade plastic, stainless steel, glass, or a brining bag. You can also use a cooler with an ice block it necessary (turkey should be in bring bag)
- Add brine, covering the entire turkey.
- Place in the refrigerator for the specified period of time. Generally that’s 60 minutes per pound.
- Remove turkey from brine, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Cook turkey as desired.
- Some brining solution recipes:
Gravy and Stuffing Tips
The best tip for great gravy is to roast turkey bones and parts (neck, giblets, legs and wings) until golden brown and then add bones to a huge stockpot and cover with clean water. You should also add some veggies such as celery, onion, carrots and garlic. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 12-16 hours, adding water as needed. Remove bones and dead veggies. Strain into a smaller pot and simmer until liquid is super concentrated. Use this in place of stock or broth when making your gravy.
To make stuffing have the cooked in-the-bird taste you can do a couple of things. Grind some of the cooked turkey meat from making the gravy until it is almost a paste. Add that to your stuffing mix. Or you can cook your stuffing in a roasting pan with turkeys wings on top of your stuffing.
Where can you get a fresh farm turkey?
Family owned and operated, Raymond’s Turkey Farm was started in 1950 by Claire and Raymond Rischer with only 24 turkeys. After years of hard work and long days, they now raise approximately 20,000 turkeys per year. For over 60 years, they have been raising Broad Breasted White Holland turkeys. Their turkeys are bred, raised and slaughtered on the premises and are fed a high quality grain diet and raised in an open environment.
To place an order for a fresh, frozen or roasted turkey, please order within a 3 pound weight range. They take orders on a turkey size of 12-14 pounds, (they rarely have anything smaller) up to 30+ pounds. Call as much in advance as you can since sizes run out quickly. The price is $3.89lb.
In addition to the turkey, Raymond’s can be a one-stop shop for all of your Thanksgiving needs. They also sell their own homemade stuffing, mashed potato, butternut squash, turnip, gravy, giblet gravy and a cranberry-orange relish. Other turkey products include turkey pies, turkey dinners, chili, meatloaf, chopsuey, lasagna, burgers, soups, shepherds pies, meatballs and more. Monday-Sunday 8am-5pm, 163 Hampstead Street Methuen, MA (978)686-4075 www.raymondsturkeyfarm.com
Elm Turkey Farm, Dracut
Elm Turkey Farm is a working turkey farm in Dracut. They sell fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can order a turkey from about 15-16 pounds all the way up to a 30+ pounds. In addition to turkey they also sell squash, pies, gravy and stuffing. Cash Only. 8am-6pm Monday-Wednesday 298 Arlington St, Dracut, MA 978-452-4444
Mayflower Poultry has been in business since 1932. Place your order as soon as you know the size you need since popular sizes sell out quickly. Turkeys are sized in two-pound increments: from 10-12 lbs. up to 28-30+ pounds and sell for $3.29/lb.
De-boned birds for ‘Turducken’ are available from Mayflower. This delicious and novel presentation of turkey, duck and chicken all-in-one, first prepared by the famous chef, Paul Prudhomme, offers a unique treat for Thanksgiving and other special occasions. For $120.00 you get a 16-18 pound Turkey, a 6 pound Duck, and a 4 pound Chicken, all de-boned and ready for you to assemble into the final product. Generally, a turducken will have three kinds of stuffing for each of the birds. Thanksgiving turkey reservations require a $10.00 deposit. 621 Cambridge St, Cambridge, 617-547-9191 www.mayflowerpoultry.com
recipes for turducken:
Fantasy Acre Farm, West Groton
They sell fresh turkeys in about a 20 pound size for $3.79 a pound. They do sell out fairly quickly since it is a smaller size farm. Open November and December only although you can call now to order a turkey. Cash Only. 186 W Main St, Groton, 978-448-2749
Bob’s Turkey farm is a family owned and operated business. Robert Van Hoof started this business in 1954 with just 125 turkeys and the farm now raises approximately 13,000 turkeys. Fresh turkeys come in a variety of sizes and are $3.89 pound. Popular sizes sell out quickly so plan to call ahead for a reservation. In addition to fresh turkeys, Bob’s product list includes turkey pies, meatballs, burgers, shepherd’s pie, sausage, soups, and much more. Sides include gravy, stuffing, squash, and mashed. Monday – Friday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, 181 Old Common Rd, Lancaster, 978-365-9271 www.bobsturkeyfarm.com
Seven Acres Farm, North Reading
Seven Acres is a working turkey farm that sells fresh turkeys at the holidays. The turkeys are either 18-20 pounds or 25-28 pounds and they sell out quickly. Call to make a reservation as soon as possible. Tue – Sun: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, 4 Concord St, North Reading, (978) 664-2660
Few suggestions for desserts/sides
Since 1877, Mann Orchards has been a fully working orchard, bakery and farm store. In addition to the freshest fruits and vegetables (many of their own or from local farms), they also have a large supply of jams and jellies and other gift basket treats. They do lovely gift baskets at a very reasonable price or sell everything you need to make your own.
The bakery is a big reason to go to Mann’s, especially around the holidays. Pies are available in apple, cherry, pecan, custard, blueberry, lemon, lemon meringue, pumpkin, squash, chocolate cream, banana cream and apple cream. Crumb topping is available on many of the pies. They also have two unique pie flavors, burgundy (blueberry and raspberry) and Don’s 5-fruit (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, rhubarb and apple).
Place your order for pies early to be sure the flavor you want is available. They have a delicious lunch menu so plan on having lunch while you are there. Monday-Saturday 8am-6pm, Sunday 8am-5pm 27 Pleasant Valley St, Methuen, www.mannorchards.com
We have talked about Thwaites English Market before. It is a small butcher shop in Methuen that specializes in English Style Meat Pies. In addition, at Thanksgiving and Christmas they offer traditional French-Canadian Tourtiere and also French Meat stuffing. There are few places left that make these traditional holiday items. 36 Railroad Street, Methuen, (978) 683-2429 www.thwaitesmarket.com
Petsi Pies (pronounced “peet-see”) is an indie bakery and coffee bar serving up handmade pies and pastries in Somerville, Massachusetts since 2003. Founder Renee “Petsi” McLeod grew up baking pies in her grandmother’s kitchen and hasn’t stopped since. They bake everything fresh daily using only all natural ingredients with no fillers or mixes of any kind. They have been voted the best pie shop in Massachusetts by Yelp and BuzzFeed.
Petsi Pies come in many flavors such as Classic Apple, Apple Crumb, Brown Butter Pecan, Cherry Crumb, Mixed Berry, Bourbon Chocolate Pecan, Blueberry, Key Lime, Mississippi Mud, Lemon Meringue, Chocolate Cream, Banana Chocolate Cream, Banana Cream, Coconut Cream, Pumpkin, Apple Pear Cranberry, and Salted Caramel Apple. Monday-Friday 7am-7pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am-4pm, 285 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 617-661-7437 www.petsipies.com
7ATE9 Bakery specializes in delicious cheesecake and named by the Food Network as one of the best 11 places in the country to get cheesecake. They make several sizes including a mini size. Flavors include original, pumpkin, lemon, cookies N Cream, mocha, chocolate, peanut butter cup, Taza raspberry, or fruit topped. You can order by phone or online. Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm, Sunday 9am-4pm, 285 Beacon St, Somerville, MA www.7ate9bakery.com