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Where Do You Get Your Thanksgiving Turkey?


silentbob
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In my love hate realtionship with my former employers (I love that they gave me enough stock to create a restaurant off the proceeds, I hate the mediocrity that dominates their stores and product selection etc), I must say that a WFM Turkey is worth every dollar it costs, jsut as a free bird from Giant is over priced!  The WFM bird is lean without any chemicals or additives.  It cook in about 10 miutes a pound to a mouthwatering perfection.  The gravy will taste of gravy and not of the salt brine all too many birds are soaked in before bing frozen months before the big day. 

Second what Dean said. The last couple of years, I have picked up a fresh (ie non-frozen) bird on Monday or Tuesday from Whole Paycheck. I'm a brine guy, so Wednesday evening it goes in. I let it air dry in the fridge Thursday morning and pop it in the oven around noon or so (depending on weight and when I want to eat).

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I'm unexpectedly hosting thanksgiving this year. I found one farm that still has heritage birds left, at $4.65 a pound, and requires a one hour drive to pick 'em up. Whole Foods has non-heritage at $2 a pound, plus $1.25 bus fare, and a local farm will deliver same to mt. pleasant for $2.65 a pound.

I hate turkey. But I love thanksgiving--soup, mashed potatoes, onion panade, squash pie, leek pie, breads, cranberries, salads, wines--I've got so many ways to spend my limited food dollars that I can't believe I'm seriously considering $80 for a dumb bird.

What're you doing?

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What're you doing?

I'm in the camp that buys the standard bird, with my decision based on the size of the bird and how long the lines are at that particular grocery store. Frankly, after years and years of hosting T-day, I've found that the qualitative difference between the precious "heritage" organic, free-range blah blah bird and the local grocery store gobbler to be not worth the difference in price and effort. why? Because I'm often feeding a lot of people who could not care less. Teenagers, ancient Aunt Helen, distracted young mothers . . . they're glad to be there and have someone else doing the cooking. Because by the time I'm done stuffing and trussing and seasoning, basting and brining, and whatever the current trend is, it's not always easy to tell the difference. Because there is so much else going onto the plates that mouths are usually full of all those other delicious traditions: cranberries, sweet potatotes, stuffing, gravy - the only consistent comment is about the juiciness/dryness of that year's bird. Now, if you're planning a small, intimite dinner party type dinner with people who can actually tell a "heritage" from a standard bird, and don't shovel three different things onto the fork at once (the kind of civilized T-Day dinner that I can usually only dream about) that might be a different story. If the budget is limited, save the $$, and get some good wine. :lol: OK, now to hear from the other camp... Edited by crackers
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I'm unexpectedly hosting thanksgiving this year. I found one farm that still has heritage birds left, at $4.65 a pound, and requires a one hour drive to pick 'em up. Whole Foods has non-heritage at $2 a pound, plus $1.25 bus fare, and a local farm will deliver same to mt. pleasant for $2.65 a pound.

I hate turkey. But I love thanksgiving--soup, mashed potatoes, onion panade, squash pie, leek pie, breads, cranberries, salads, wines--I've got so many ways to spend my limited food dollars that I can't believe I'm seriously considering $80 for a dumb bird.

What're you doing?

Hi everybody!

This is my first post.

I don't know how many people you are having, but one year I really didn't want to do turkey, so I bought a Capon instead (from fresh fields actually). I liked it so much better! As far as I know, there is no turkey law.

Just a thought. By the way, loved meeting some folks at the 2941 dinner.

Colleen

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I'm in the camp that buys the standard bird...
I attend the same camp as crackers... especially when my voracious in-laws are all coming for dinner. But I do try to find "natural" and "minimally processed" birds that have not been injected with saline solution, since I like to brine my turkey (and then grill it :lol: ). And I usually buy a frozen bird because I am more confident it has remained frozen and not cycled in that frozen/not frozen/frozen/not frozen purgatory that some large grocery stores inflict upon their "fresh" turkeys.

However, due to a carefully negotiated agreement, the in-laws are taking a break from visiting this Thanksgiving and we will be having one of those small, intimate, civilized dinners, so perhaps I'll give one of the "fancy" birds a try.

This is my first post. 
Welcome NotQuickDraw! It was nice meeting you the other night and thank you for the capon idea, I had not realized they were that readily available. :P
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This will be our first year hosting not one, but two Thanksgiving (Thursday and Saturday). We ordered 2 turkeys from Wegman's last night and will be doing a taste test. One of the birds is the free-range, organic, hormone-free, pampered, free-roaming fancy-pants turkeys. The other is one of their standard fresh (not frozen) birds.

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I get my birds from River Falls Seafood in Potomac. They come from a small farm on the Eastern Shore (I think), and are killed and cleaned right before being shipped to the store, so they're quite fresh. I don't recall the price per pound, sorry. You have to order in advance. They are pretty tasty (considering that I don't really care for turkey).

Also, last year instead of roasting one ginormous turkey I roasted two 9 pounders. They cooked much faster and much more evenly; when the dark was just done the white was still pretty juicy.

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My family and my husband's family are both lackluster about holidays or other gatherings, so there's no long-standing traditions to uphold. We've had spaghetti, steak, and roasted pork in recent years. If we do turkey I just buy a small breast to brine and roast.

Still haven't decided what to make this year. Probably turkey, because what the heck.

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It is our turn to host, and my sis-in-law and bro-in-law, who are involved with two trendy restaurants on Clinton Street in NYC, are coming. They know from food and wine. Mo-in-law will be here too, but she thinks everything is always "dee-lectable" as long as it isn't "too pepp'ry" or "too vineg'ry" and there is wine for her with plenty of residual sugar. Jonathan has declared that Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday, and he doesn't care how much the food costs. So I went ahead and put a deposit down on a Polyface heirloom turkey. Yikes. I can't bring myself to publicly acknowledge the cost of it. And my excruciatingly frugal mother-in-law would have a heart attack if she found out. I'm planning to brine, then lightly smoke it in the Weber kettle, which I have done in years past. It really does take turkey from the good to the sublime.

There are hard-and-fast traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving, as far as Jonathan is concerned. So we must have creamed onions. I bought two big clamshells of pearl onions at Costco, and will be blanching and peeling a couple of days in advance--it's so time consuming. We must have stuffing (I have some leeway as to what goes into the stuffing), and gravy, and mashed white potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans. And cooked cranberry sauce. Mo-in-law always brings the raw cranberry relish ground up with orange peel that has lots of bitter pith in it that no one eats but her, so on defense I have to make cranberrys so the rest of us'll have some good stuff. And we must have pumpkin pie and pecan pie with fresh whipped cream. I saw a recipe in Saveur for a steamed pumpkin pudding that looked so good, but I dare not introduce such an alien concept to the sacred tradition. It's going to be a lot of work...

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It must be so great to have these options. Each year, my family spends the holiday with the family of my parents' best friends. Mom makes the turkey and stuffing; best friend makes just about everything else--and it's the same "everything else" each year from the green bean casserole to the gravy-from-a-jar. *sigh* It's all very depressing.

I usually throw together a dessert, something tasty and homemade (not "semi-homemade" blech!). If I were a more confident cook, and had more time on-the-ground after traveling home, I would attempt to throw them a curve ball. Maybe next year.

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I just bought a Whole Foods bird last night.  Anyone have recommendations on a relatively low-maintenance but still effective brine recipe?  The one that Alton Brown suggests is a little too elaborate IMO.

A couple of simple brining recipes (one same-day, one overnight) I've used with success:

Brining Method 1: Place the turkey in a pot (or heavy plastic bag or clean bucket) large enough to hold it easily. Pour ~2 pounds kosher salt into the neck and body cavities and all over the turkey and rub it into the skin. Add cold water to cover the turkey, rubbing the bird and stirring the water until the salt dissolves. Set the pot with the turkey in a refrigerator or other cool location for 4 to 6 hours. Remove the turkey from the salt water and rinse both cavities and skin under cool running water for several minutes until all traces of the salt are gone. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

Brining Method 2: Dissolve 2 cups kosher or 1 cup table salt in 2 gallons water in large stockpot, heavy plastic bag or clean bucket. Put the turkey into the brine solution and refrigerate, or set in a very cool spot (between 32 and 40 degrees), 12 hours or overnight. Remove the turkey from the salt water and rinse both cavities and skin under cool running water for several minutes. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

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kid whining for the new x-box? try this instead:

Smash his glasses. Half an hour before Eastern Market closes--e.g., as dusk gives way to night--send him out, blind, on bike to fetch the turkey. For bonus points, rig his brake cable to snap two blocks into the journey.

on the plus side, I'm alive, and the bird is safely dead in the fridge.

edited to update three hours later:

Turkey's no longer safely dead in the fridge. Turkey is half-butchered. Literally and figuratively. I'm trying to figure out how the hell I managed to completely avoid past intimacy with raw poultry. I'm wondering how I overlooked that lapse until after immersing myself in a thanksgiving meal for 15 that starts with deboning a turkey.

The wishbone, for starters, is about 90 degrees away from where I thought it was.

Edited by babka
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It's just wifey and I, so I'll brave the ridiculously-cramped Fairfax Weggers later today and grab whatever I can grab. My only clear conceit to Actual Cooking Thought is to roast the bird upside-down. I'll trade breast skin for not overcooked any day--and also the "oysters" on the bird's underside don't get confited or steamed this way.

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It's just wifey and I, so I'll brave the ridiculously-cramped Fairfax Weggers later today and grab whatever I can grab. 

I hope you pre-ordered your turkey. They ran out of birds yesterday at 4pm except for those who pre-ordered (they were also out of fresh green beans). There were several people visibly upset that there were no more turkeys when we picked up ours. I wonder how much I could have re-sold my turkey for? :lol:

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Zora,

Most producers of Heritage Turkeys freeze their birds. It is because the birds are ready when they are ready, and some times that is a more than a week before Thanksgiving. I have never found that it is to the detriment of the turkey (the robustness of the meat can put up with quite a lot). I have also found that brining a heritage turkey is a wasted step. The meat is rich and is not prone to drying out.

I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the Vieux Telegraphe, it is one of the best CdP's made.

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It's that time of year. What are you cooking for Thanksgiving dinner? Have you sourced your heritage turkey yet? And what kind of pies will you be making?

Or if you're not cooking, where do you have reservations?

(ETA can we change the subtitle and make this more of a generic "holiday" thread?)

The couple of times I've cooked a turkey I've used Bell&Evans fresh turkeys, so I'm new to the heritage turkey thing. Is it too late to get one?

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The big questions is: Has anyone here got experience with Turducken (esp commerical stuff). I'm worried that it's more style vs substance. I'm also worried that by the time the inner most parts are cooked, the outside turkey portion will be drier than dry.

Appreciate any feedback y'all got.

We served a turducken (that we ordered from a butcher in Lafayette, LA) a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Being a native Louisianian, I wanted to love it, and I had enjoyed the homemade one my boss in Lafayette served for Thanksgiving the year before. (He even hunted the duck himself, but that's another story...)

My take on the commercial version, though, was that it is entirely style over substance, and pretty much not worth the expense and hassle. It's hard to get a good idea of cooking time, so, as you said, you wind up drying out the turkey to ensure the chicken cooks through. Having said that, most of the people at our Thanksgiving table raved about it for weeks ... so if you're serving people who will go nuts for the "wow" factor, it'll do the trick.

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The big questions is: Has anyone here got experience with Turducken (esp commerical stuff). I'm worried that it's more style vs substance. I'm also worried that by the time the inner most parts are cooked, the outside turkey portion will be drier than dry.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a turducken with plain stuffing from cajungrocer.com. A bit pricey, but the novelty factor was definitely a big hit. The turducken comes boneless so it made it easy to carve. Maybe the turkey was a little dry, but what I really remember is that the turkey/duck/chicken layers were not as clear as I was hoping for, especially once people started slicing it. It tasted ok, and I'd get it again for fun. Someone who was there just mentioned it to me again the other day so I guess it was memorable.

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A couple of years ago, I ordered a turducken with plain stuffing from cajungrocer.com. A bit pricey, but the novelty factor was definitely a big hit. The turducken comes boneless so it made it easy to carve. Maybe the turkey was a little dry, but what I really remember is that the turkey/duck/chicken layers were not as clear as I was hoping for, especially once people started slicing it. It tasted ok, and I'd get it again for fun. Someone who was there just mentioned it to me again the other day so I guess it was memorable.
What I have always wondered about Hebert's turducken: are the chicken and especially the duck are skinned first? I can't imagine all that duck fat with no where to go. Plus the yuk factor of soggy skin.
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turducken
I have fabricated 4 turduckens, the last of which the stuffed legs were braised and the breasts stuffed, brined, barded then roasted. Turducken in 2 services. While not as majestic of a centerpiece, it was more sophisticated and practical to carve and serve.

The entire single service creature assembly requires the better part of 2-3 days and needs 14-16 hours to cook at 180 degrees. The layers are visible but usually crumble when a cross-section is sliced, and once you get to the mid-section, it’s a veritable crap shoot. Left to rest overnight and then reheated, the proteins have time to coagulate and the layers are solid.

Though a novelty, and without brining or barding & basting the outermost bird is wretchedly dry, what the conglomerate thing lacks in epicurean substance regardless of truffles, foie gras, caul fat, spices and herbs (flabby skin, steamed duck, impractical carving) the satisfaction of engineering such a eccentric comestible opus is a grandiose high water mark, not unlike building a vibrating bed that is featured in the last pages of Popular Mechanics, but shatters teeth.

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Does anybody have suggestions for a good/great prepared turkey? Due to lack of oven space, we have decided to outsource this particular portion of the dinner.

In the event that anybody ever finds themselves in Memphis during the holidays, Cozy Corner will bbq any turkey you bring them.

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Can anybody recommend a decent brand of turkey? The heritage birds are too expensive for me this year, and I cannot locate a Bell&Evans bird (which I have enjoyed in the past). I understand that Whole Foods has their own organic turkeys. Has anybody tried these? I'm also open to non-turkey alternatives (e.g. capon, etc.). Thanks for your help!

Oh - I live in the Old Town area and I'm willing to drive a bit if it means securing a better bird.

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Can anybody recommend a decent brand of turkey? The heritage birds are too expensive for me this year, and I cannot locate a Bell&Evans bird (which I have enjoyed in the past). I understand that Whole Foods has their own organic turkeys. Has anybody tried these? I'm also open to non-turkey alternatives (e.g. capon, etc.). Thanks for your help!

Oh - I live in the Old Town area and I'm willing to drive a bit if it means securing a better bird.

My mother-in-law lives in PA near York and fresh Bell and Evans turkeys are what they have at the local Weis for something like $1.19 a pound. At least last year they did. If you're serious about willing to drive, it's probably a 2 hour drive from here but you could probably stop and get local apples and pies and such to make a day of it.

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Can anybody recommend a decent brand of turkey? The heritage birds are too expensive for me this year, and I cannot locate a Bell&Evans bird (which I have enjoyed in the past). I understand that Whole Foods has their own organic turkeys. Has anybody tried these? I'm also open to non-turkey alternatives (e.g. capon, etc.). Thanks for your help!

Oh - I live in the Old Town area and I'm willing to drive a bit if it means securing a better bird.

Balducci's is featuring D'Artagnan Organic Turkeys this year. I can't advise you on the price point, but since you are in Old Town, it shouldn't be too difficult to dash in. I may be doing that later this week myself, since the office is so close.

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We're usually away at Thanksgiving, so I don't generally order one there, but Market Poultry (202-543-7470) at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill has wonderful poultry at reasonable prices. That's where I buy most of my poultry, and that's where I would go if I were looking to acquire a Thanksgiving bird. They also have other poultry besides turkey.

I checked and they said most of their Thanksgiving turkeys come from Hillside Farms. The deadline for pre-ordering through them is November 19th.

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along the lines of Opeth's query, I'm planning on having a post-thanksgiving turkey dinner with a bunch of friends (we're all going back to where our families live for thanksgiving, but we'd like to celebrate with friends too). Anybody know if there are post-thanksgiving turkey sales worth checking out (similar to the post-Halloween candy sales)? I guess turkey is a bit more perishable than halloween candy, but I'm thinking about buying on the monday or tuesday after that weekend to cook it on the following saturday. I should probably just suck it up and buy one before I go home and throw it in the freezer, but I'm always looking for a deal.

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I understand that Whole Foods has their own organic turkeys. Has anybody tried these? I'm also open to non-turkey alternatives (e.g. capon, etc.).
I've had Whole Foods turkeys a couple of times, but not for a couple of years now. I don't remember who the producer is or was. At any rate, they were pretty good, and a whole lot cheaper than a turkey from Heritage Foods (and a whole lot more expensive than a Butterball from the Safeway). You can sign up for a turkey of a given weight-range, although I think they really only use this for estimating how many to order. When you show up on the appointed day, they just tell you to take one from the refrigerator case. At least this was my experience at the Tenleytown WF. As I recall a smallish (10-12 lb) bird cost me around twenty dollars or so. Definitely worth the money as compared with a standard supermarket turkey.

Speaking of capons, does anyone know where to find one in the Washington area? I haven't seen one in a market for decades.

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Does anybody have suggestions for a good/great prepared turkey? Due to lack of oven space, we have decided to outsource this particular portion of the dinner.

We feasted on Georgia Brown's fried turkey past couple years and have been extremely happy. It is $55 for the bird. I am told it is about 10-15 lbs. You just heat it up and the skin becomes really crispy. That's usually the only part of the bird I eat, but the breast and thighs are pretty juicy too. This year I ordered two birds for a party of 15 to 18. I don't love the sides offered as much so I usually order/pick up from other places. With the 2 boxes of wine...I am all set!!

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Whole Foods has free range fresh turkeys at $1.99/lb and organic turkeys at 2.99/lb. Deadline to reserve is Nov. 19.

Balducci's has free range turkeys at $1.99/lb and D'artagnan organic turkeys at $3.29.

I ended up reserving my free range turkey from Whole Foods, simply because of the convenience. Last year, I got my turkey from Whole Foods, and got rave reviews (used the hi-temp cooking method being promoted at Safeway).

(Edited to correct the prices)

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We're usually away at Thanksgiving, so I don't generally order one there, but Market Poultry (202-543-7470) at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill has wonderful poultry at reasonable prices. That's where I buy most of my poultry, and that's where I would go if I were looking to acquire a Thanksgiving bird. They also have other poultry besides turkey.

I checked and they said most of their Thanksgiving turkeys come from Hillside Farms. The deadline for pre-ordering through them is November 19th.

We get our turkey from Market Poultry every year. It doesn't get much better than their birds on Thanksgiving.

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We get our turkey from Market Poultry every year. It doesn't get much better than their birds on Thanksgiving.

From the Arlington Farmer's Market email newsletter.

Smith Meadows Free Range Meats will have turkeys available at market on November 18th. Turkeys will range in size from 10-20 lbs, and are priced at $3.49/lb. In order to guarantee your size preference, folks need to come to market this weekend to place their order and make a $10 deposit. The turkeys are American Bronze, 100% chemical free and raised free range.
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Does anybody have suggestions for a good/great prepared turkey? Due to lack of oven space, we have decided to outsource this particular portion of the dinner.

In the event that anybody ever finds themselves in Memphis during the holidays, Cozy Corner will bbq any turkey you bring them.

NRG does Thanksgiving to go every year - the full menu is attached. We do deep fried or smoked turkeys, as well as pork loins, with all the trimmings and desserts this year are being done by Pastry Chef Lisa Scruggs and Amy Foster.

Thanksgiving_2006_Order_Form.pdf

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We get our turkey from Market Poultry every year. It doesn't get much better than their birds on Thanksgiving.
I noticed when I was there this weekend that one can also order goose and capon for Thanksgiving. I recall that the original request said that capon was okay too.
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We're only hosting a VERY small group on Thanksgiving. To be perfectly honest, I don't even want to buy a full turkey breast, because even that will leave us with way too many leftovers. Does anybody know a source of half a turkey breast (preferably de-boned--I'm lazy) in MoCo? Extra points if it comes from a turkey that lived a good life (out in nature, walking around some yard, pecking only at organic, all natural, carefully selected foods, perhaps receiving regular massages!) before it met its maker?!

I've tried My Organic Market and Whole Foods with only minimal success (WF has something close to what I want, but not really).

Other thoughts on how to feed turkey (preferably that we prepare) to a few guests on Thanksgiving gratefully accepted.

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We're only hosting a VERY small group on Thanksgiving. To be perfectly honest, I don't even want to buy a full turkey breast, because even that will leave us with way too many leftovers. Does anybody know a source of half a turkey breast (preferably de-boned--I'm lazy) in MoCo? Extra points if it comes from a turkey that lived a good life (out in nature, walking around some yard, pecking only at organic, all natural, carefully selected foods, perhaps receiving regular massages!) before it met its maker?!

I've tried My Organic Market and Whole Foods with only minimal success (WF has something close to what I want, but not really).

Other thoughts on how to feed turkey (preferably that we prepare) to a few guests on Thanksgiving gratefully accepted.

If you ask nicely the whole foods guys in Silver Spring will usually do anything you want with the prepacked meats. Just grab a whole breast take it up to the counter and ask nicely if they will halve it for you. Worth a shot.

On a different note, what quantity of potatoes would you all mash for 12 adults and 5 kids (and hopefully a enough for leftovers!!)?

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