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I am preparing a holiday lunch for 100+ low-income preschoolers, and their parents. I don't have the time, and manpower to prepare roast turkeys. I will have 4 hours to cook, and plate a main, and sides (mashed potatoes, stuffing, green peas, and gravy) and have 3 ovens, and 4 burners to use. I have minimal time for prep the day before and am required to use some form of turkey. Any suggestions? TIA.

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  1. Turkey meatloaf?
    Once you form them, you're free to work on the sides etc. as they cook for a while.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monavano

      Thanks mona, that was my 1st thought as well but would like a few more options to offer. I also thought about turkey meatballs in gravy.

    2. - Turkey Chili
      - Turkey Lasagna
      - Burgers
      - Thanksgiving Sandwich (turkey+cranberry sauce)

      1. Open faced roast turkey breast sandwiches w/ gravy & sides?

        1. What about making turkey breast? If you roast small pieces in a little broth it will stay moist.

          1. Could you braise and loosely shred the turkey the day before?

            1. Preschoolers can be very picky, so I would likely go with a menu that is fairly plain. The turkey, even if it is just sliced turkey breast from the deli, needs to not touch the other food - at least those were the rules for my grandchildren when they were that age. Are you locked into the menu you list? You can have gravy, dressing, and potatoes for the adults, but not all the kids will eat it. Preschoolers enjoy dipping things, so some raw veggies and some kind of dip might be a good idea.

              1. Does it have to be a "hot" lunch?

                I was thinking of "thanksgiving" sandwiches on whole wheat like what meatnveg said....thick sliced turkey, stuffing, cranberry mayo, romaine lettuce, sweet potato chips? could be build-your-own. OR as Veggo said, open face sandwiches.

                To me, the turkey should be recognizable as turkey, rather than in a loaf or meatball.

                1. Split turkey breast,cooks faster,requires less oven space and portions,carves with minimal labor.Below I've written how they make it stretch.

                  HAM,standard part cure grocery store ham.It can be served at a neutral temperature.My brother and brother in law do a Thanksgiving lunch with a few others for people in similar circumstances.For several years they have even been able to get a number of the spiral sliced ones donated.They quit on the whole turkey about 10 years ago.Too much carving with labor and space constraints.They have been doing this on a large scale 10 or 12 times a year for 20 years now.This group of gun club hunters,4 are surgeons is now a well oiled machine,plenty of carving and cooking skills and they gave up on "whole bird"timing and space.

                  1. You can spatchcock and cook a 12 pound turkey in 70 minutes @450º. With three ovens, you can have nine birds cooked in your timeframe.

                    Cooking a 2 pound loaf takes 75 minutes @ 375º, and more time if more loaves are in the oven, not including prep time for mixing ingredients.

                    1. Do they still sell hotel style turkey breasts? They are compact all white meat and cook in a few hours or less. I used to buy them for group events but haven't seen any in my usual grocers lately but it appears that Shady Brook Farms still sells them bone in and boneless.

                      1. When I was young we sometimes got boneless, skinless turkey breast meat (at least mostly the breast, IIRC) that was rolled and tied. My mom then roasted that in a roasting pan. I think sometimes they had skin on the outside. My dad was in the restaurant business so I don't think it came from a grocery. Maybe a meat marked has those where you are.

                        Another option might be to see if a local restaurant can prepare and slice some of the restaurant-style breast, particularly if you don't have access to a commercial slicer.