Turkey has long been the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving celebrations. With COVID-19 still looming, this year’s celebration may look a bit different for many of us. Instead of a large gathering with all of the aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins, you may be planning a smaller gathering of immediate family or even the next-door neighbors. Or maybe you’re moving the dinner table outside (if the weather cooperates) or opting for a different meal altogether? No matter where or how you choose to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, there are plenty of options to make it special. Just opt for a celebration that makes you and your loved ones comfortable.
One size doesn’t fit all
If turkey is still your protein of choice, there are lots of size options from frozen to fresh, whole birds to breasts, and, of course, turkey legs. You should also consider how much leftover meat you’d like to have and plan the meal accordingly. You can ask your grocery store or local butcher for options too. Many butchers will cut a whole bird in half if you’re planning a smaller gathering, so you can get both white meat and dark meat to satisfy everyone’s tastes. Here’s a handy chart to help you plan your portions.
Make your list and check it twice
Every good plan comes with a list. So, as you’re preparing the menu, consider other items you’ll need. If you’re getting ready to cook your first Thanksgiving meal, that’s awesome! Hopefully, this list will come in handy as you check your kitchen and plan for a few online purchases:
- Aluminum Foil
- Brining Kit and Bag (if you plan to brine your turkey)
- Meat Thermometer
- Roasting Pan with rack (note: consider a foil roasting pan for easy clean-up)
- Serving Platter
- Sharp Knife and Two-tined Fork
- Turkey Baster
- Twine/Kitchen String
For a traditional turkey recipe, make sure to add these items to your grocery list:
- Fresh Herbs (we like thyme, sage, and rosemary)
- Chicken broth (we like low-sodium, especially if you’re brining your turkey)
- White wine (optional)
Other tips to remember
Another important tip is to allow time for your bird to thaw if you’re purchasing a frozen turkey. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. For example, an 8–12-pound whole turkey will take between 1 ½ to 2 ½ days to thaw. Thawing in cold water takes less time, about 30 minutes per pound. For this method, place turkey in its packaging in a large bag, squeeze out air and place in a container large enough to completely submerge the turkey in cold water. Replace with cold water every half hour. Plan to prep and cook as soon as it is thawed.
If you’re not able to get together with Aunt Sally or Grandma this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to collect their famous recipes so you can recreate and enjoy your favorites at home. And if you’re planning to have a few drinks that day, don’t forget to pick up some appetizers or snacks. Just remember to look for the G.A.P. Animal Welfare Certified label and #MakeitGAP when you’re grocery shopping. You can find G.A.P. Animal Welfare Certified products at Whole Foods Market, Thrive Market, Amazon Fresh, and many other retailers supporting our G.A.P. Certified partners. You can also order products directly from many of our G.A.P. partners depending on where you live. See chart below and visit our Covid-19 webpage to link to these partner websites directly.
G.A.P.’s 2020 Turkey Guide Coming Soon!
In a couple of weeks, we’ll be publishing a downloadable G.A.P. Thanksgiving Guide containing loads of recipes, fun activities for the kids, and tips and tricks to make your Thanksgiving event as enjoyable and low-stress as possible. So, be on the lookout on social media and in our e-newsletter for this informative free guide.
Just remember, when you purchase a G.A.P. Animal Welfare Certified turkey or other G.A.P. Certified products, you are voting with your dollars for better animal welfare practices. You are also purchasing a high-quality product containing no antibiotics, added hormones or animal by-products. With your help, we can change the way our food is raised. Thanks for being a G.A.P. fan and have a Happy Thanksgiving! #MakeitGAP