This day of herculean feasting only comes around once a year, and if you want to make the most of it, you probably want to roast the turkey yourself. And even though everyone has their favorite sides (shout out: cornbread stuffing and jellied cranberry sauce), the big bird is the star of the meal. That's why, if you're going to do it ... do it right.
Spend the money on a quality turkey. Something from a proper butcher if you can—not the lowest priced option in the oversized freezer bin at the supermarket. Those big, watery birds never deliver in terms of taste or texture. If there's not a good meat shop near you, you still have time to order online. Our choice? Porter Road.
Their birds are fully pasture-raised, living outside and roaming free 24/7. They were raised at the Jolly Barnyard farm outside of Nashville. They're never treated with added hormones or antibiotics and are fed a non-GMO diet. The end result is not the bland, flavorless turkey most of us have come to expect. The finished meat here will have a slightly darker hue and noticeably richer flavor.
Whole turkey (serves up to 12),
$140 at Porter Road
Thomas Odermatt, the Swiss-born chef famous for his hearty and healthy Roli Roti food trucks in San Francisco, isn't a huge fan of turkey, but he's grown to love this holiday. Because turkey is typically known for being dry and unexciting, Odermatt adapted his recipe for porchetta (hand-rolled pork tenderloin, wrapped in crispy pork belly) for something that's not only extremely flavorful, but relatively easy to cook considering it makes for an impressive reveal at the dinner table.
“This recipe calls for a deboned turkey, which is a lot of work,” says Odermatt. “To make it easier, order your turkey at your local butcher and ask them to give you a deboned butterflied double breast, as flat and even as possible.”
There's a myriad of reasons why you could go out instead of cook on the big day. Maybe you don't want the stress of shopping and chopping and slaving over a stove. Maybe you want to keep the stress-level low and let someone else handle all the details—let alone all the clean up. Ditching the dishes on Thanksgiving is turning into an annual tradition for many us. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, nearly 12% of Americans plan to eat their holiday meal at a restaurant this year.
While it might seem indulgent, experts say that dining out could actually save you money since prices for staples such as turkey, eggs, bread and butter are up substantially this year. Plus, eating at a restaurant allows everyone to be present and enjoy each other's company. That is until you've had enough “family time” and are ready to get out of there. Giving up your table is the perfect excuse to wrap things up (and it's much easier to duck-out after dinner when you're not at someone's house).
In terms of where to go, opt for a classic place that will offer all the trimmings you've come to expect. Old standbys like McCormick and Schmick's, Smith & Wollensky, Fleming's and Daily Grill are all open and offer their standard menus along with specialty holiday spreads. What's more, they're often served family style—which not only makes ordering easier but ensures you'll likely get to take some leftovers home too.