26 November 2019 04:33
Thanksgiving math: How much to buy, how long to cook, how many it feeds Ah, Thanksgiving. Is there any other meal during the year so freighted with expectations and so fraught with potential pitfalls? Nope. Not even close. Think unruly children, extended day drinking, high-handed dietary restrictions, compulsory nostalgia, and relatives who love the stir created by divisive political topics, like a cat among the pigeons.
And never mind the general turkey terror of shopping, cooking and hosting. We can't help you with your family (or their drinking habits), but we can make planning and preparing the meal easier. We consulted the experts (and drew on our own experience) to prepare this guide to Thanksgiving math: how much food to buy, how long to cook it, how many it will feed, how to store it properly and other essentials. It's Thanksgiving by the numbers. BIG BIRD The rule of Thanksgiving thumb is to allow 1 pound of turkey meat per person.
Want leftovers (or serving big appetites)? Allow 1 1/2 pounds. The following guide accounts for meat and bone weight: For 14 people, buy a 20-pound turkey LITTLE BIRD If you're not cooking for a crowd, make a bone-in turkey breast. A 5- to 7-pound breast feeds about 4. THAWING OUT To thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, as the USDA recommends, allow about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. You also can submerge the bird in a sink of cold water to thaw, changing the water every 30 minutes and thawing at the rate of 30 minutes per pound. THE BRINE A brine uses kosher salt and sugar in a 1-to-1 ratio, usually no more than 1 cup of each. Feel free to add other seasonings. Brines typically are made by heating the salt, sugar and seasonings with a bit of water until dissolved. This mixture then is diluted with additional cold water (volume will vary depending on the size of your bird) and with ice. The brine must be completely cooled before adding the turkey. Turkeys should be brined for at least 8 to 10 hours, up to 72 hours. The longer you plan to brine the bird, the weaker you should make the brine. So, for a 10-hour soak, use 1 cup each of salt and sugar. For longer, consider reducing to 3/4 cup each. Always keep the bird refrigerated during brining. If the turkey is too big, an ice-filled cooler works, too. If a turkey is purchased pre-brined, do not separately brine it. SALTY RUB Don't have the time or patience to brine? Try salting instead. In fact, plenty of folks say salting a turkey produces meat with far better flavor than brining. Set the turkey on a platter, then rub a generous amount of kosher salt on all surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you're ready to roast, rinse the salt from the turkey, pat it dry and place it in the oven. ROASTING Roasting times and temperatures vary widely by recipe. However you roast, it's essential the meat is cooked to a minimum safe internal temperature of 165 F. To measure, insert a digital instant-read thermometer in the inner portion of a turkey thigh without touching bone. Never rely on the pop-up thermometers that come with some turkeys. Their readings are inaccurate. The following guide is for an unstuffed bird cooked at 325 F in a standard oven. 20- to 24-pound turkey: 4 1/2 to 5 hours Convection ovens require some heating and timing adjustments. Either reduce the recipe temperature by 25 F and cook as directed, or roast at the recipe temperature and cut cooking time by 25 percent. LET IT REST After the turkey emerges from the oven, it needs to rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving so the juices redistribute. To keep the bird warm, tent it with foil, then layer on some kitchen towels. Carrots: A 1-pound bag makes 4 to 5 servings Cheese: Serve 2 ounces per person as a pre-meal nibble Cranberry sauce: Make about 1/3 to 1/2 cup cranberry sauce per person Gravy: Plan for 1/3 cup gravy per person, with 1 extra cup for every 6 people Green beans: 1 1/2 pounds of beans makes 6 to 8 servings Mashed potatoes: Make at least 3/4 cup per person Rolls: Figure on about 2 rolls (or cornbread slices) per person Pie: A 9-inch pie feeds about 6 to 8 Stuffing: Prepare at least 3/4 cup stuffing per person, plus an extra batch LEFTOVERS Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria growth. Store leftovers in shallow containers to decrease cooling time, thus reducing the time food spends in the unsafe range (40 F to 140 F). Don't eat leftovers that have been refrigerated longer than 3 to 4 days. Freeze food to store it longer. The Associated Press contributed to this report. You care about what you put in your mouth. So keep current on food and drink news through alerts, unlimited access to content and more with a Reno Gazette Journal digital subscription. Download the RGJ app Subscribe to The Reno Taste free newsletter right here. Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media, part of the USA Today Network. Join @RGJTaste on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Two major storms are threatening to disrupt millions of people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. The first storm will move through the Rockies, Great Plains, and Great Lakes regions between Monday and Wednesday, leading to winter storm watches across a wide swath of the central US, from Colorado to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. "Should the storm develop to its full potential by Wednesday evening and take a northward track toward the Great Lakes, heavy, windswept snow would fall just northwest of the storm's center with heavy rain and perhaps severe thunderstorms to its south and east," said Courtney Travis, a meteorologist with AccuWeather. The second storm is expected to slam into the West Coast from Northern California to Southern Oregon on Tuesday and lash the area through Thanksgiving. The National Weather Service is already describing the storm as potentially "historic" and "unprecedented." Both storms are expected to unleash tumultuous and dangerous weather with heavy rain and snow, damaging winds, and possibly thunderstorms. This year's Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest since 2005 and a record-breaking number of passengers are expected to travel by air. The two storms have the potential to cause major transit delays across the US Even in areas far away from the storms, a ripple-effect of delays from other parts of the country could snarl holiday travel plans, as aircraft are repositioned or delayed in other parts of the country due to the weather. Several airlines have already issued preliminary travel waivers, although we expect to see these expanded as the forecasts become more detailed, and as the storms begin to make an impact. Even if your flight hasn't been delayed or cancelled yet, you can take advantage of waivers to proactively rebook yourself, making alternate arrangements before it's too late and other flights are all booked up.