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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 mirepoix...so 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

                                          Hmmm...how 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 flavor...so 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.

                                      1. Getting extra parts is a great idea. And if you carve in the kitchen, you can display everything nicely on a platter. You can even cut the meat off the thighs and they might not even know the turkey was smaller than you hoped!

                                        1. My plan was to confit 8 turkey legs (I really like confit) to go with the 13.5# turkey we have and half a ham for 8 people (I am counting on lots of leftovers). When I went to pick up my turkey today, they didn't have my legs! They will be in tomorrow but now I'm a day behind on my confit. I sympathize with your frustration.
                                          Still - Chow's turkey leg confit recipe is awesome and easy so long as you can find duck fat (and legs, of course!).

                                          10 Replies
                                          1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                            You can buy duck fat on Amazon, believe it or not. And if you want ORGANIC duck fat, I can look up where to get that, too, my sister buys organic meat from them online.

                                            1. re: ePressureCooker

                                              I have mine. It's harder to find than it used to; I have a small gourmet store and have trouble getting it from my suppliers any more. I try to buy food locally as much as I can (partly because of impulsive menu planning and partly because of the business I'm in). I have carried Rougie in the past but haven't been able to get it recently. Interesting that the Amazon store had it!

                                            2. re: Sushiqueen36

                                              What would happen if someone were to confit in pure olive oil or olive pomace oil? Place everything in cold oil and slowly bake at 200-215F?

                                              1. re: GTM

                                                it would be good, GTM, but confit when used in reference to cooking poultry means they're cooked in their own fat -- so it wouldn't be the confit that people are talking about as their eyes roll back into their heads.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Ha ha, thanks much to both of you, Sunshine and Sushiqueen. Have a super T-day. I wonder if an expert confit maker would like to experiment once, take one for the team?

                                                  1. Pure olive or pomace oil is cheaper than duck fat? Sometimes?

                                                  2. You can make oil-poached fingerling potatoes with the residual oil. Poach vegetables in the oil, in a warm vinaigrette a la Nico Ladenis, and use it to paoch fish as well, then use part of it warm on salad dressings [frisee, poached egg?]

                                                  3. More uses for the residual oil than duck fat?

                                                  4. Waterfowl will honk when you pass, and be your BFF? Sort of, at least?

                                                  5. Might turn out to taste really, really good? The ultimate criterion?

                                                  Rick Stein has a great sweet-sour red cabbage braised in the oven to accompany confit duck; enjoy!


                                                  1. re: GTM

                                                    1. probably -- but cost is not a driving factor when making confit.
                                                    2. You've obviously never had potatoes (or anything else) cooked in duck fat.
                                                    3. See #2.
                                                    4. huh?
                                                    5. See #2.

                                                    1. re: GTM

                                                      My turkey leg confit - cooked in duck fat - turned out great and (even better) I have 3 left to eat this week and beyond. I am planning on straining the duck fat once the turkey legs are gone and making a confit of something else... or maybe more turkey legs since I enjoy them so much. I'll continue to use the duck fat for as long as I can.

                                                      I agree with sunshine's comments but will add regarding #4. The waterfowl flying over my house are too lean to bother rendering their fat anyway - so they're safe in that regard. They still won't want to be my BFF though since my husband hunts them.

                                                      1. re: Sushiqueen36

                                                        If you don't decide to go for confit, consider frying some potato wedges in the duck fat. I haven't tried duck fat, but I've fried potatoes in home rendered chicken fat, and oh my goodness, were those potatoes were delicious. Duck fat is supposed to be even better than chicken fat, so I can only imagine how they would taste.

                                                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                                                          I have done that and they are very good. The duck fat is so light - doesn't leave a greasy feel at all.

                                                          I have several quarts of duck fat and since potatoes only take a couple of tablespoons at most, I think I can do both!

                                                  2. re: GTM

                                                    I am not sure how that would work out! My turkey legs are cooking away in the oven right now. It's going to be hard not to test one when I take them out...

                                                2. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9235...

                                                  According to the above USDA number, you should have ordered at least 20#, depending on the age of the kids. You'd need about 10# more in legs/thighs, which will make an odd-looking platter but if dark meat is preferable, go for it.
                                                  Maybe for presentation, separate the thighs from drums and arrange them around the whole bird, octopus fashion. You might start a family tradition!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    I find that this calculation seems to really over-estimate for my gatherings. I had 20 people and half a dozen kids around for an early Thanksgiving, and after everyone had seconds, there was still a meal or two's worth of leftovers on my 13-lb turkey. Of course, I also had the usual range of sides, but nothing out of the ordinary.

                                                    It could be that people simply didn't like my turkey, of course, but they did go for seconds! The 1/2-lb/person ratio works better for me. I wonder if the 1-lb/person is meant to give you lots of leftovers?

                                                    1. re: Palladium

                                                      I'm with you -- by the time you have all of the sides, etc., nobody's really going to belly up to that much turkey, even when you take the bones out.

                                                      When I was feeding 25-30 for a sit-down, we figured on a half-pound per person and there were always leftovers....and the headcount included five teenaged boys!

                                                  2. Linzandchris can take it up with the butcher AFTER Thanksgiving. Or not patronize them at all. But I wouldn't jeopardize my Thanksgiving over 3 pounds, if I were her. Recriminations or shopping for a new butcher can happen LATER.

                                                    I would go for the extra legs, and then carve them into nice serving slices/pieces in the kitchen prior to service. You could either arrange them (with gravy) around the turkey, or place them on a separate platter so one end of the table can start serving themselves while you carve and/or serve the breast meat from the other.

                                                    And if there's any concern about whether you'll have enough for everyone (or for leftovers) increase the amount of appetizers you have available, especially those with protein (nuts, beans, legumes) - that will help give your guests a full feeling before the bird even hits the table.

                                                    1. 17 diners x 1/2 lb per person = 8.5 lbs. With the 13 lb turkey you'll have enough, but no leftovers. If budget allows, I'd do a couple of extra whole legs.
                                                      we usually carve the entire turkey in the kitchen, and arrange on a platter or two for passing at meal time. No one would ever know if we used completely deboned roasts, parts, or whatever.

                                                      1. While I think additional turkey parts would be fine to add, you could also make something totally different. Ham is pretty traditional, but brisket could be passed off as a nod to the thanksgiving -Hanukkah crossover. Roast pork, lamb, or another type of beef dish would all work and could stretch the turkey. When serving Thanksgiving dinner to rather large groups, I have added several types of meat with great success.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Ama658

                                                          I'd go with a roasted ham. You can juggle the oven space with the turkey.
                                                          Forget about the screw-up where you got the turkey. You're lucky just to get any turkey.
                                                          I pre-ordered a free range turkey from a small producer once. It was when he just that day taken delivery of the 'day-olds'. He wrote our name in the book. We checked a couple of times on how 'our bird' was doing b/c the producer was only a mile away. Came the big day. We arrived to be told by some one that the producer was 'not receiving'. (He was hiding in his house next door. We could see him peering around the curtains. Turned out someone from 'the city' had arranged to buy all the turkeys weeks before.

                                                        2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

                                                          1. How would they feel about adding some smoked turkey drumsticks to the table?

                                                            1. One year my Dad did a "deconstructed" Thanksgiving WAY before that term became teious on cooking shows. He preferred white meat, so bought 2 whole breats. A few legs/thighs and several wings... his mother's and one of my favorite parts.