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Special Feature: Thanksgiving Game Plan

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Relieve the pressure with turkey to go

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Wednesday, November, 14 By Emily Young
Staff writer

Looking to avoid cooking altogether this Thanksgiving? Be thankful for turkey to go.

Thanksgiving is a notoriously labor-intensive day for chefs, experienced or not, and many locals are hanging up their aprons and picking up the phone. In fact, 53 percent of Americans buy prepared foods for all or part of their Thanksgiving meals, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.

Places like Butcher Boy Marketplace in North Andover and Whole Foods Market in Swampscott offer complete Thanksgiving dinners | roasted turkey and all the fixings | that simply need to be warmed up at home. Some places, like the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, do allow you to pick up a hot dinner on Thanksgiving Day. But the majority of vendors serving turkey-to-go require pickup a day or two early.

"We roast over a hundred turkeys," said Tom Yameen, co-owner of Butcher Boy Marketplace. "We peel our own potatoes, steam our own butternut squash. It takes a long time. We start producing Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving. Yes, it's all hands on deck, every year."

Henry's of North Beverly started selling a la carte Thanksgiving items, including cooked turkeys, 47 years ago. The independent grocery store prepares 3,000 gallons of gravy every year, but caps their turkey work to 75 orders. Owner John Keohane accepts Thanksgiving turkey orders on Nov. 1 | and usually sells out within 10 days.

"That's all the cooking space we have for all the turkeys to be cooked nice and fresh," Keohane said. "Year after year, people count on us to make their Thanksgiving easier. Some people are not sure how to cook a turkey. Others don't have the oven capacity. And some people don't have the preparation time."

Toby Karlyn of Celebrations Gourmet Catering in Beverly said people even pretend they cooked all day, when they really just emptied a couple of containers.

"I had a woman put in an order years ago because it was her turn to host Thanksgiving," Karlyn said in an earlier interview. "She called back the next day and said, ‘I hate to ask you this, but would you mind making everything look messy? I'm not going to tell anybody I didn't make it myself.' She came back year after year for a long time."

Depending on what and where you order, turkey-to-go options for Thanksgiving Day range dramatically in content and preparation. Here are a few sample menus, but there are many more possibilities for locals out there.

Meals to go

Where: Boston Market, 435 Winthrop Road, Lawrence, (978) 725-8100, bostonmarket.com.
$$$: Dinner for six, $59.99, dinner for 12, $76.99.
When: Patrons can order through Wednesday, Nov. 21, but risk the chance of items running out. Pick up between Sunday, Nov. 18 and Thanksgiving Day.
What: For 12, spinach artichoke dip with crackers, 11-pound whole turkey, home-style mashed potatoes, fresh vegetable stuffing, cranberry walnut relish, gravy, cornbread, and an apple and a pumpkin pie.

Where: Butcher Boy Marketplace, 1077 Osgood St., North Andover, (978) 688-1511, butcherboymarket.com.
$$$: Dinner is $12.95 per person.
When: Patrons can order until Monday, Nov. 19. Pickup is Tuesday, Nov. 20 or Wednesday, Nov. 21.
What: Roasted and sliced turkey breast, traditional stuffing, fresh turkey gravy, homemade mashed potatoes, pureed butternut squash, green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and butter.

Where: Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St. James Ave., Boston, (617) 267-5300.
$$$: Dinner for four, $190, dinner for eight, $235.00.
When: Order by noon on Monday, Nov. 19. Pickup is Thanksgiving Day.
What: A 14- or 20-pound roast turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, butternut squash, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn muffins, rolls and butter; choice of pumpkin or apple pie (dinner for eight includes one of each).

Where: Whole Foods Market, 331 Paradise Road, Swampscott, (781) 592-2200.
$$$: Dinner for two or four, $19.99 per person, dinner for eight, $151.92, dinner for 12, $215.88.
When: Order by Tuesday, Nov. 20 at noon. Pickup is Tuesday, Nov. 20 or Wednesday, Nov. 21.
What: Fully cooked turkey or turkey breast, mashed potatoes, New England stuffing, green beans with almonds, cranberry-orange relish, rich turkey gravy.

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