Turkey For A Crowd
for 12, 25, 50, 100 or more!
This is the procedure for feeding large numbers of people
Large families, large parties, or for volunteer functions, fundraising suppers - you name it. Sometimes we need a lot.
More than usual, the secret is planning. You will need to be several days ahead, thinking through what you will need when.
The goal is to have the turkey cooked, cooled, off the bone and ready to serve as needed.
Here is our Complete List of Dinner Recipes
This recipe will feed any number, minimum 12 people, and will easily multiply as you use more bird. Read about Party Food Quantities and how to plan for the right amounts.
Turkey For A Crowd Recipe Shopping List
___Turkey, frozen, figure 1.5 pounds frozen for every person
___ Salt, pepper and garlic as needed
One Week Before the Party:
Get the birds out of the freezer. Don’t take them out of the plastic, leave them in the bags. Put them in pans in the fridge, with nothing underneath.
Thawing will take 3-4 days. No less.
Three Days Before the Party:
Unwrap the turkey in the sink, removing the plastic cover and any organs, wires, etc. Save the organs for the stock. Wash the bird with cold water.
Using a sharp knife and strong hands, cut the turkey into quarters. Similar to a chicken, but with larger bones and tougher membranes.
Onto pans covered with foil for easy cleaning, first spray with vegetable oil release and then arrange the quartered birds, cut side down. Put a bit of water in the pan, maybe 1/2 inch or less.
Bake in a preheated 400°f oven for 1 hour, then check the temperature with your thermometer.
You want 165°f internal, in the thickest part of the meat. Check several places - careful not to touch a bone or the bottom of the pan.
When done, remove and cool quickly in the refrigerator. Do not let them stand out at room temperature - right into the fridge, hot.
After several hours, remove each quarter, one at a time, and wrap tightly with film. Return to the fridge right away.
Pour all pan drippings, oil, everything into a pot, and keep it refrigerated too.
Two Days Before the Party:
One at a time, remove the quarters and cut the bones out.
Careful to get all the tendons and other material out of all the meat.
Be careful to keep the breastmeat intact, as undisturbed as possible, so that it will be easily sliced later.
As each quarter is boned, save the bones in the pot with the drippings. ReWrap the boned quarters in film and refrigerate. Carry on until all the quarters are done and back in the fridge.
Now make stock by adding water to the pot(s) with bones and drippings, enough to cover the bones. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Continue this cooking as long as you safely can, up to 12 hours.
When the stock is finished cooking, carefully remove and discard the bones. Strain the stock, and put in into the refrigerator to cool.
The Day of the Party:
As the stock cools, the fat will rise to the top of the pot. Ideally, this fat will solidify and be easily removed, or not - one way or another, skim the fat from the stock. Save the fat in the refrigerator - you can use it to make gravy.
Make gravy. Using the turkey fat you saved, mix it with flour to make a thick roux (paste), heating it in a pot big enough to hold all the gravy you plan. Melt/heat the fat and flour, stirring constantly, cook for 4 minutes, then add to some of the turkey stock you made. Don’t use more than 75% the stock for gravy. You’ll need the stock later. Read on.
Gravy TIPS: If you need more fat, use butter. If you need more stock, use chicken stock that you made, or bought pre-made, or you made from base.
Keep the gravy warm over hot water in a double boiler, or in a food warmer.
Here’s how it works:
Spend some time arranging your food service line. No matter if its tens or hundreds of people - be organized.
You are going to be slicing turkey, (cold from the fridge,) then soaking it in hot stock for 60 seconds or so, and then serving onto platters or plates, along with the other foods you’re serving. The hot stock will warm the meat nicely, bringing it up to temperature.
Heat the remaining stock and keep it hot. Not enough stock left? You can water it down a bit, or add chicken stock. We like to throw in a head or two of celery, some whole onions and a couple pounds of carrots, which stay in the pot. (Then we fight over who gets to eat those veggies when the meal is over...!!) Totally too good.
Place the stock near the serving area, or have the serving area near the stove - plan it out. The stock needs to stay hot, on the stove is best. Think of a way to safely organize your activities (and crew) so you can serve the turkey efficiently - especially when you’re doing larger numbers.
If you need to serve all the meat at the very same time, slice each quarter up and rewrap it with film, then return to the refrigerator. It should all be sliced and ready before hand.
If you have a buffet line, and you’re not completely certain how many people will attend, then you can have 75% of the meat sliced and ready to serve before, and then slice more as needed.
If you’re serving finished plates to order, then slice as you go, as needed.
In any event - you never want to have a lot of turkey out at room temperature. You want to have it either in the refrigerator, or being sliced, or in the stock. Control the temperature.
Careful on the soak: Too long, and the meat will toughen up - especially the white meat. Not long enough, and it cold. Use your thermometer and check for 165°f same temperature you used before.
See how this works? It’s a totally doable way to serve many people large home parties, or volunteer suppers, fundraising events, homeless/USDA programs - you name it.
If you have questions, please use Ask-a-Caterer - we’ll be glad to help.
The turkey can be easily frozen, so can be the stock.
How about some Desserts?
Check out some Appetizers!
Ready for some Dinner and Entrée ideas?
Questions about Turkey For A Crowd
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