There's a Butterball Shortage but You Don't Need to Worry

Don't let a turkey shortage get in the way of your Thanksgiving feast.Last week, Massachusetts-based grocery chain Big Y announced that Butterball would only be fulfilling 50% of national orders for fresh birds over 16 pounds due to a national shortage.

Of course, the obvious answer is that there are plenty of other brands of turkeys to try, so don't sweat it. But if you must have your Butterball, here are a few suggestions from Sherry Rujikarn, assistant food editor in our Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, on what to do if your store runs out.

Go for frozen.
There's not really a noticeable difference in taste, Rujikarn says. You'll need to do a bit of pre-planning if you opt for an frozen bird, however: It takes roughly a day to thaw per four pounds of turkey. Plan to place the turkey in your fridge at least four days in advance. And unfortunately, there's no workaround we recommend if you forget until the day before.

Related: 25 Simple Stuffing Recipes

That said, Rujikarn does have one trick to help you speed up the thawing process: After it's defrosted a bit, unwrap the turkey from its packaging and remove as much as you can from the cavity. (Often brands will stuff the giblets and neck in there, and they can really slow down thawing time.) Once you've done that, rewrap the turkey in plastic and put it back in your fridge.

Make a side of turkey breast.
If you're looking to feed a crowd of more than 12, you'll want at least a 16-pound turkey. If your heart is set on a cooking a fresh Butterball, you can pick up a turkey that weighs less; It will cook faster but, otherwise, there's no major benefit to a smaller bird. To up the amount of meat you get, pick up an extra turkey breast. If your oven is large enough, you can roast it at the same time on the rack beneath the bird in an hour and a half to two hours, depending on how you prepare it.

Related: Easiest Thanksgiving Ever

No room in the oven? You can also cook the turkey breast a day ahead, let it cool, wrap it tightly, refrigerate it, then slice it thickly, smother it in gravy, and gently reheat it in the oven while the whole turkey rests. Or more adventurous home cooks can throw it on the grill.

Pick local.
If you haven't tried a local turkey in the past, this might be the year to visit a local farm or market. "The meat will always taste better than any factory-farmed meat," Rujikarn says.

If you're cooking with a smaller bird, be sure to check out Ina Garten's easiest-ever Thanksgiving menu. Ina likes to pick up a kosher turkey ("It's already salted, so you'll get a brined flavor without the labor.") that weighs in at 12 to 14 pounds. It cooks in less than three hours, so it won't take all day to roast either.

- By Nicole Price Fasig

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