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Nov 24, 2013 11:09 PM

Not enough Turkey!!!

We are hosting the holiday and are scheduled to have 10 adults and 7 children for dinner. The meat shop made an error with my pre-ordered free-range turkey and instead of being 17+ lbs, it is only 13.75 lbs. Most of us prefer dark meat anyway, and I am considering roasting additional hindquarters instead of tracking down a bigger bird. Thoughts, opinions? Thank you!

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  1. If you feel turkey parts would be acceptable, then go for it. If it were me, I would not have accepted the wrong order from the meat shop, if they didn't agree to correct their mistake, I would have taken my business elsewhere

    8 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      While that may be a reasonable request most of the time, I have a feeling that it's difficult to get a fresh free-range turkey just a few days prior to thanksgiving without a preorder.

      Seems like the shop owes her one and additional turkey parts should do the trick in terms of getting everyone fed.

      1. re: Cherylptw

        Unfortunately, taking that stance this late in the game could result in no bird at all. I don't know of anywhere you could score a fresh free range turkey this week.

        1. re: weezieduzzit

          I called WF today and I can still get a fresh, heritage, free range bird for pick up tomorrow. They meat guy said they often get last minute cancels and lots of no shows too. We decided to stay and have either a Friday or Saturday Thanksgiving so I wanted to make sure I could still get a good bird. Still have plenty of time to brine, woot!

          1. re: foodieX2

            My local WF has tons of turkeys just sitting there in the meat section. Just FYI for anyone looking now or in the future. I ordered ahead but it seems that stock a lot in addition to reserved birds.

          2. re: weezieduzzit

            You're probably right but I still would not have accepted something I didn't order. Now, this is just me, but I would have insisted they refund my money and went to buy a frozen or fresh non free range bird elsewhere, but that's just me. It's not like they didn't know what she pre-ordered. They should have offered her those turkey parts that she now needs to find to make up their error and her inconvenience. I would think twice about ever ordering another bird from this shop.

            1. re: Cherylptw

              I had the same problem tonight—the butcher had planned to get small *(12-15 lbs) and large (20+) turkeys. The smalls they received were only 10 lbs. I bought it anyway thinking it would be hard to get what I want elsewhere. We only have 10 people, 3 of them little kids, and anyway, who the hell wants to go running around for turkey tomorrow? They took 20% off the per-pound price. I'm annoyed, and I won't be going back to that place, but we'll live. Gratitude and all.

          3. re: Cherylptw

            Good luck getting a free range turkey days before TG. Refusing it for a 3 lb difference would be nuts.

            1. re: rasputina

              To each his/her own; those extra three pounds make a difference post cooking weight.

          4. Unless all the kids eat a lot you should be ok. I would roast an extra pan of wings which are very popular at my house.
            But I agree, I would not have taken the bird.

            34 Replies
            1. re: magiesmom

              Good point about the wings. My grandmother loves them but it seems the past few years they just get tossed out.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Oh my god! In my house they cause riots .

                1. re: magiesmom

                  Just eat them as is? My family loves them, fights over turkey tips. I guess I never picked up that trait but this year maybe I'll put them to good use since I'm on my own for this cooking fiesta.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Yes, just as is, roasted until the skin is very crisp and the meat is succulent,

                  2. re: magiesmom

                    We only use wings to make stock... the thighs cause riots here. :)

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      In my area of the country, we buy turkey wings all the time. I cook them all year long....but I'm in the south where we eat random animal parts regularly....

                      1. re: Cherylptw

                        You can hang with my grandmother from the south who eats more random animal parts regularly than I knew existed. I'll mention some oddity, "oh I have that all the time." The last example was turkey tails.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          I saw large packs of turkey livers in the meat section today; they always stock those prior to the holiday. I started to pick up a pack but I just don't have the room in my two freezers (lol). We are huge advocates of most things porkified, from the rooter to the tooter. Tails, feet, hocks, chitterlings, hog maws, cracklins, ears and snout (haven't tried that one yet) and that's just the outside of the animal. Poultry tails, gizzards & livers, feet (haven't tried that one either yet, but very popular here). Cow feet, neckbones & oxtails are favorites. Don't get me started on the inside of the animals.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            The tails are the best! My dad called them "last part over the fence" My MIL calls them "the parsons nose". I just call them "mine"!

                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                              I used to have to fight my MIL and my son for the tail. We joked that I'd have to open a restaurant so I'd have enough to go around.

                              So we did. When we first opened our place, we had so many tails left over we didn't know what to do with them. We threw them in the stockpot because even we couldn't eat them fast enough. We started giving them away, then smoking and doing them Buffalo Style, then 2/$3. then 2/$5, and now we not only sell out but have to buy them by the 30-pound case.

                              1. re: acgold7

                                Ooooo! Smoked! Buffalo style! Yes, please!

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  You don't serve oxtails as a dish?

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    I believe we are talking turkey tails, not oxtails. I set ours aside today, for a date night, when everyone else has gone to bed!

                                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                                      Oops, you're right. I've read about fried turkey tails but haven't cooked them. Yet.

                      2. re: magiesmom

                        Any suggestions for roasting extra wings? I finally found some today, after a long search in the rural area we live in. My plan is to use some of the roasted wings in a stock/broth for use in making gravy and in the dressing and use some of them on top of the "dressing" cooked in a Crock Pot to mimic traditional "stuffing." Any hints on roasting the wings. I have them defrosting in the fridge with a dry salt brine.

                        1. re: Springhaze2

                          I think it's pointless to use wings over the crockpot dressing. It's the Maillard reaction browning that contributes all that good flavor to oven-baked dressing. Your crockpot wings will just steam, the skin remaining pale and flabby. The fat they render won't have much more flavor than turkey fat skimmed off after water poaching. Better to roast or sautee the wings Wednesday, then save the drippings and deglaze the pan with wine. Use that in your crockpot dressing. Roast the wings at 375 and let them get overly brown, to the point of being on the dry side. Since you'll then simmer them in broth/stock, it won't matter if their meat is overcooked. You'll have maximized the flavor compounds that they will contribute to the cooking liquid. I'm not alone in liking to add some cooked stuffing/dressing to the gravy and simmering it a bit before straining. It adds flavor and thickening power so you'll need less roux.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            I'm with you, grey.

                            I roasted a few pounds of wings and necks, then used the now nicely-browned pieces to make a stock (a gorgeous dark stock!), so my dressing will have plenty of roasted turkey flavor.

                            I also kept all of the fat from the roasting to use to brown my my dressing won't have been in the bird, but it will definitely taste like roasted bird!

                            (tried boxed stock the other night in a recipe when I was short on time. Yech. Can't believe I ever used to use that stuff all the time)

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I do the same thing, roast wings and legs (I pull the meat off the legs, and place them skin side down in the pan to create fond in the pan, then make stock with what's left.

                            2. re: greygarious

                              Just for anybody coming back and looking at this thread. I ended up roasting all of the wings at about 400 for about an hour along with some onions. Set aside two of the roasted wings for the crock pot dressing/stuffing and make a stock out of the other 4 wings.

                              For the stock, I deglaced the roasting pan with water. And put that in a stock pot with 4 roasted wings, the roasted onions, celery, carrot, parsnip, fresh parsley, bay leaf, fresh sage and fresh thyme with one carton of purchased turkey stock and water to cover. It came out to make an amazing stock for making both may stuffing/dressing but also the gravy.

                              For the stuffing/dressing. I made homemade Turkey Stuffing Bread, let it dry out and cut into cubes. Made a basic stuffing/dressing by sauteing onions, celery, carrot and herbs in butter. Put the cooked aromatics and butter over the bread cubes, moistened with the homemade stock. Let it sit overnight in the fridge.

                              Thanksgiving morning, I spooned (loosely) the stuffing/dressing into a buttered Crock Pot pan and placed two of the roasted turkey wings on top. (Not the wings cooked to make the stock). Set the Crock Pot on high and cooked it for 3 hours, stirring about twice. It came out amazing...for all of you doubters. Nice crispy bits of bread and the moistness of being cooked in the bird. To me it was the perfect compromise between cooked in the turkey stuffing and baked dressing.

                              The stock also came out perfect. My gravy, made with the drippings from the roasted turkey and the stock, was pretty close to as good as my Grandmother's. And my Grandmother made the best gravy ever.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  A recipe for homemade bread that has the herbs and seasonings of stuffing. It can be eaten as is, but I think it makes the best stuffing/dressing. I've been making it for close to 20 years for the holidays.

                                  I do my own variation, but here is the basic recipe...

                                  The directions for making it in a stand mixer and baking it in the oven are in the comments/reviews at the bottom of the recipe.

                            3. re: Springhaze2

                              Just saw this now, sorry.
                              Usually I have roasted the wings at 375, just salted and peppered.

                              Today I did something new, which I loved loved loved.
                              I browned the wings ( and legs) in butter and oil, then added many garlic coves, salt, pepper paprika.
                              Roasted, covered for 3.5 hours at 250. WHile the skin was not crisp, the meat was unbelievably succulent.

                            4. re: magiesmom

                              I thought of you last night when I remembered to try out the wing for once. It was great, a nice post-dinner turkey snack. The leg on the other hand proved an eating feat I don't quite have enough energy for yet.

                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                I love the flavor of the legs, but the nasty web of tendons and cartilage drive me kinda batty.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Yea, the tendons are formidable opponents, I'm still picking away slowly.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    You're right, that can be a real pain if you roast the legs, I used to hate drumsticks the most. If you have a pressure cooker, however, turkey legs are a snap. 20 - 25 minutes on high pressure (natural pressure release), and the meat will be so tender you can just peel it right off the bone, and pluck the tendons right out. Thighs de-bone really easily as well. Then you've got lots of chunks of dark meat perfect for turkey pot pie, or open faced turkey sandwiches, or making into turkey salad, or whatever you like...

                                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                                      I just tossed the 2nd leg in the stock pot, not sure anyone has an energy to tackle that one. The pressure cooker sounds like a great idea, I'm sure I could braise them in the oven to get a similar result.

                                      1. re: ePressureCooker

                                        not the ones I had the last time -- thought I'd make a turkey bourgignonne, and the tendons were an utter pita, even after 40 min in the pressure cooker.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                 many turkey legs were in the pressure cooker at the time? It may be that you actually OVERCOOKED the legs. They will soften, and then if you cook them too long, they can actually toughen up again, apparently. And how much wine was there in the pot? IIRC, too much wine will acidify the cooking environment and actually help the meat hold together, too. Did you use natural pressure release, or did you force it, including by running water on the cooker?

                                          If I understand the progression properly, the pressure cooker directs so much heat at the meat, it actually denatures the protein fairly quickly, and causes it to release a lot of water (hence where there's often more liquid after cooking then there is at the start). At a higher temperature, one of the three types of connective tissue (collagen) will also denature and transform into gelatin. It is that water-soluble connective tissue and the melted fat within the meat that make the meat seem moist, both from whatever moisture they provide, but also because the fat triggers saliva production on our tongues, making the meat seem even moister.

                                          You also need to allow the pressure cooker to depressurize naturally, even if it means reducing the cooking time under pressure, because rapid changes in pressure can apparently "shock" and toughen the meat (I'm not sure exactly how that happens).

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I'll usually pressure cook a thigh and a drumstick by itself for 25 minutes, with only a couple of tablespoons of wine. (Once it depressurizes, I also let the meat cool down in the cooking liquid for 10 or 15 minutes so it can reabsorb some of the juices.)

                                              So my guess is, with three legs, plus a fairly hefty amount of wine, it probably needed more time to break down the connective tissues.

                                              1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                2 cups is hefty?

                                                Make sure you never read a recipe for bourgignonne or coq au vin meant to be prepared without a pressure cooker.

                                                that's a pretty normal amount of wine for the braised dishes I prepare.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I'm sorry, I should have specified "for a pressure cooker".

                                                  2 cups is quite a lot for a pressure cooker, generally. Normally you reduce the amount of alcohol in pressure cooked dishes because you don't have nearly the amount of evaporation and because its a closed environment and the volatiles are (for the most part) being kept inside the cooker. You normally also reduce the amount of liquid in general for the same reason. Obviously with bourguignon its meant to be a wine based dish, its supposed to have a strong wine flavor, but this boeuf bourgignonne recipe, for example, has 1 cup of wine for 2 pounds of beef plus all the fixings:


                                                  But maybe the proportions are the same depending on how much those turkey legs weigh and I'm just not taking that into account...

                                                  1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                    there was no overpowering alcohol I'm calling no biggie on alcohol content.

                                                    One cup of wine or two pounds of beef isn't bourgignonne -- it's beef stew with some wine for flavoring :/ (not picking on you personally)

                                                    The three legs were a little over three pounds with the legs....the meat was plenty tender -- the tendons and cartilage, not so much.

                                2. you'll probably be okay with the bird as is, but you won't have leftovers.

                                  I've roasted many, many half-turkeys and leg quarters to make up for a bird smaller than I'd hoped it would be.

                                  From what I read, there's a shortage of birds larger than 12 pounds this year, so it may have been that's all the butcher could find.

                                  1. I'd err on the side of caution and buy parts. Unless your budget is really tight, why chance it?
                                    For me, I'd rather have peace of mind and abundance, being Thanksgiving and all.
                                    Plus, I can think of a million ways to use leftovers.
                                    We got our turkey at Costco this weekend and it was tough finding one as small as 12 lbs.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: monavano

                                      Funny, I think we're in the same area and I got mine at Costco yesterday. Had to root through a bunch of little runts to find an 18 pounder!

                                    2. I don't eat turkey on Thanksgiving....I fill up on sides, namely stuffing.

                                      But I like the idea of roasting off a bunch of wings.