We are hosting 16 people for Thanksgiving. Does it make sense to cook 1 large turkey or 2 smaller ones?
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For 16 a nice big guy with lots of sides should be plenty, if you have a need for lots of leftovers you might want to make two big guys. Or if you want to make two kinds of birds, like a smoked or fried and your regular oven roasted that could be fun.
Also if most of your guests prefer dark meat, one big bird may not be sufficient. Most commercial turkeys are breast-heavy.
Last year I did a 20 pound turkey, and a turkey breast (more liked breast meat) we had leftovers and everyone had plenty of turkey. We had 25 people for dinner
You know what I do every year? I do one nice roasted turkey, and then I take another turkey and do a roulade. The roulade is great because it makes stellar sandwiches for the next few days.
-remove the skin in one whole piece
-remove the breasts, and flatten with a meat tenderizer
-remove and de-bone the leg meat
-make a force-meat stuffing with the leg meat
-roll the flattened breast with the force meat in the middle
-wrap in the skin and tie off
-Roast, or alternatively, lightly dredge in seasoned flour and then pan fry (finish in the oven)
Two turkey option a bit different from each other and plenty of food for all. make a soup with the left over roasted bird and enjoy your turkey roulad sandwiches
Benny, I salute you -- I did duck roulade for Thanksgiving last year and it was no easy task!
We have 16 - 20 each year and always do two 10 - 12 pound turkeys. We do one traditional broad-breasted white turkey and one heritage turkey. Heritage turkeys have much more dark meat and are a real treat. Also, your oven space matters. We usually do one fried turkey (the broad breasted turkey) and I break down the heritage turkey (breast and dark meat separately) so that I can confit the legs and roast the breast. Now that we have moved past the expectation of a huge bird carved at the table - our turkeys are zillion times better - a huge turkey just isn't really naturally suited for roasting - its so hard to keep the white meat moist, imho. I love Benny's idea of a roulade - I might try that this year. Good luck with your feast!
We would probably do 2 to 3 10-12 pound turkeys and fry them. This will give you some leftovers to eat over the holiday. Also, we cook down the turkey carcass to make stock and then make gumbo with the leftovers too. We usually end up cooking 5 or 6 turkeys for the neighborhood since the oil is hot and it only takes about 40 minutes a bird.
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I would do one large turkey. I order from a local farmer, and always get a 22-25 pounder, no matter the number of guests. If there aren't as many, more leftovers for us!!
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We will have (at last count) 27 people this year. In the interest of going overboard we will roast a heritage turkey, deep fry two regular birds, and smoke 18 drumsticks. We do the smoking the day before and serve them room temp. And we have a ham. It's ridiculous, but fun!!
I say 1 turkey and 1 ham. That's what my uncle always did and it is what I am doing this year.