Why You Should Consider Roasting 2 Smaller Turkeys Instead Of A Large One

Unless you're lucky enough to own a double oven, making a large meal for a large group in a small kitchen can be challenging. Cooking every dish — and keeping everything warm without the dreaded dry-out — is a common stress factor for most home chefs. When it comes to a traditional turkey dinner, there's even more to worry about: All eyes are on the host when the bird finally arrives in all of its roasted glory, just when you're wondering whether all the meat is actually perfectly cooked and trying to balance the hot, heavy, dinner star on its parade from oven to table. So much could go wrong, with all that planning and effort collapsing in a holiday heap. But what if you took a "divide and conquer" approach by cooking two small turkeys instead of one giant one?  

Here's why that might just save the communal dinner as well as your sanity. First of all, you won't have to cram an enormous, tall bird inside an average-sized oven, inevitably perching it on the lowest oven rack where it could get bottom-scorched. Instead, two smaller turkeys can cuddle side by side in smaller pans, with no concerns over excess heat above or beneath.   

Smaller turkeys also cook more quickly, saving time while ensuring the just-right skin crispiness everyone covets. And because they're smaller, they'll cook more evenly, avoiding the scourge of large-turkey cooking, in which white and dark meat cook at different speeds, creating concerns over dried-out meat and food safety. 

Two turkeys can mean more enjoyment

What family or communal group doesn't have a verbal or unspoken competition over who gets first dibs on the turkey legs? Unless it's a white-meat-only kind of group, the turkey legs can be the most prized items on the entire table. If you have two turkeys, that doubles the pleasure, with four winners instead of two. 

For an especially large crowd and a consequently big table, having two gobblers also lets you position one on each end for easy access. And what about the sometimes touchy moment of deciding who gets the matriarch or patriarch honor of slicing the turkey at the head of the table? Not a problem anymore, as two people share the prestige.

If you're still cramped for oven space when cooking two smaller turkeys instead of one large one, consider having the butcher at your grocery store spatchcock both birds. This process, similar to butterflying, essentially removes the backbone in each turkey and flattens it, reducing the overall size and requiring smaller cooking pans. It also cooks the meat faster and more evenly.

Alternatively, if most diners in your clan prefer white meat, you could buy one full-sized turkey and a separate whole turkey breast, or even two. These are available either boneless or bone-in, providing a surprisingly large amount of meat. This approach similarly saves precious space in your oven, will keep your guests happy, and is a big winner for next-day turkey sandwich creations.