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Buttermilk Clouds

Time for Turkey Math

This is a serious math, folks, but not yet taught in our educational system. (Do I need to start a movement?) All women and men that orchestrate a holiday dinner need to be fluent in turkey math. Some know it instinctively and use it without being aware of this ability. Others simply flounder and know that something is wrong when they and their hungry family are waiting two hours for the last dish to be brought out of the oven and the mashed potatoes have turned into a chilled mass.

So, what is it exactly? This is a timetable for preparation of a holiday dinner from expected time to eat backwards to the beginning of preparation. The turkey is the cornerstone which we build this timetable.

To do turkey math, a couple of things must be in place.

  • You need a solid menu...set in stone. Meaning, no "corn or baked squash casserole". It either has to be one or the other or both. No choice at the last minute.
  • You have to know the weight of your turkey for cooking time.
  • The time you want to sit down for dinner.

With that information in hand, you are ready to do turkey math. I will demonstrate how it works.

Menu (this happens to be our menu for this year...works out well for me, now my turkey math is taken care of):

The turkey weighs 14 pounds. It will have to bake @ 325 for 4 hours since it will be stuffed. We want to eat at 5:00. (hmmm...this is starting to sound an awful lot like high school algebra.) A turkey out of the oven should sit awhile to let it rest before carving. This works into my master plan.

Here is the turkey math action plan.

A week before:

  • Make the menu
  • Make a shopping list
  • Grocery shop for your holiday ingredients
  • Do turkey math

Three days before:

  • Remove turkey from freezer and place in refrigerator (thawing time: 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey)

Two days before:

  • Make and freeze 2 pie crusts

The day before:

  • Make and refrigerate - Creamy Mashed Potatoes
  • Make and refrigerate - Butternut Squash Puree
  • Make and refrigerate - Watergate salad
  • Peel, chop and saute onions for dressing - refrigerate
  • Set bread out to dry

The night before:

  • Put turkey in brine

The day of:

  • 9:00 Make pumpkin pie and bake
  • 9:30 Make chocolate pie and bake
  • 10:00 pies should be out of oven and cooling
  • 10:00-11:00 take a break
  • 11:00 Make dressing
  • 11:30 Stuff turkey
  • 11:45 Put turkey in oven
  • 12:00 Set the table
  • 12:30 Clean up the kitchen
  • 1:00-2:30 have a glass of wine...nap...ponder the meaning of life
  • 2:30 Remove casseroles from refrigerator to come to room temp
  • 3:00 Assemble broccoli and rice casserole
  • 3:45 Remove turkey and keep covered
  • 3:45 Put all the casseroles in oven
  • 4:15 Make gravy
  • 4:30 Carve turkey
  • 4:45 Remove casseroles from oven
  • 4:45-4:59 Put all the yummy food on the table
  • 5:00 Eat!!

Good luck, all you little turkey mathematicians!


By: Sharon Pickering | 11/15/2007 at 10:26 AM | If you want, you can leave a comment by clicking here.


  1. Blogger :: Suzanne :: | 11/25/2007 10:59 AM |  

    I really like the 1:00 - 2:30 bit.

  2. Blogger hillgrandmom | 12/01/2007 12:30 AM |  

    We don't have Thanksgiving here nor do we get turkey. But one Christmas I made stuffed roasted chicken and worse than the other accompaniments getting cold was the fact that when we carved the bird, it was not cooked inside!!! Disaster. What is the time per Kilo for baking a chicken, or is it the same per weight as for turkey? I even thought I'd steam the bird for a short bit before stuffing and baking.

  3. Blogger annie | 12/01/2007 5:44 AM |  

    @hillgrandmom, A good rule of thumb for roasting a chicken is 20 minutes per pound. (Or 20 minutes per 0.45 Kgs.)

    Here is a timetable:

    Chicken Roasting times (unstuffed)
    2½ - 3 lbs - 1 - 1¾ hrs
    3½ - 4 lbs - 1½ - 1¾ hrs
    4½ - 5 lbs - 1½ - 2 hrs
    5 - 6 lbs - 1¾ - 2½ hrs

    Chicken Roasting times (stuffed)
    2½ - 3 lbs - 1½ - 2 hrs
    3½ - 4 lbs - 1¾ - 2¼ hrs
    4½ - 5 lbs - 2 - 2½ hrs
    5 - 6 lbs - 2¼ - 2¾ hrs

  4. Blogger annie | 12/01/2007 9:38 AM |  

    @hillgrandmom, I forgot to mention...
    bake at 350º F. Plus 10 minutes for chickens weighing between one pound and six pounds. If the chicken is over 6 pounds, the extra 10 minutes is not usually needed.

  5. Blogger annie | 11/20/2011 5:33 AM |  

    My Turkey Math for 11/11

    6:00 • Make pecan pie and bake
    • Make dressing
    • Stuff turkey
    7:00 pie should be out of oven and cooling
    7:45 Put turkey in oven
    12:00 Set the table
    12:30 Clean up the kitchen
    10:30 Remove casseroles from refrigerator to come to room temp
    11:00 Assemble broccoli and rice casserole
    11:45 Remove turkey and keep covered
    11:45 Put all the casseroles in oven
    12:15 Make gravy
    12:30 Carve turkey
    12:45 Remove casseroles from oven
    12:45-12:59 Put all the yummy food on the table
    1:00 Eat!!