Whew! After a flurry of activity, I have managed to land an organic turkey from Whole Paycheck. Per the store, it is "flash-frozen" and will thaw in 2 hours. After looking around on the interweb, I am guessing they mean "Hard-chilled":
"Turkeys that are hard-chilled are cooled to temperatures between 0°F and 26°F. They are not considered fresh or frozen and so they are not labeled as such. Since they are not considered frozen, the turkeys must be handled as though they are fresh to ensure proper food safety."
Sounds good to me!
Thanks for all the advice. After conferring with my chef partners, I have determined to do Turkey only for meat offerings. We have at least one fully vegetarian guest and therefore were planning many hearty sides already. Last night, husband and I set out on the calendar our schedule for cleaning, shopping, prepping and cooking leading up to the big day. It seems very manageable. Luckily, my Chicago family members are contributing lots of food and even to the table settings. (From dishes to the table runner!) I'm excited because I hope all the participants will feel fully engaged and invested in the meal. One of my favorite thing about my "family" here is that we all love to cook for and with each other and each of us brings something different to the table.
I've decided to use this recipe for the bird, although I waver between finding Alton Brown humorous and irritating. But I found this recipe through the Amateur Gourmet's website and I definitely trust his results. (not to mention pictures!) It does call for brining (Don't shoot me AinA!) but it also uses the technique of cooking the bird quickly at a high heat. After roasting many a chicken since April, i have found this technique to be superior for turning out a moist bird with crispy, crispy skin. (And you know it is all about the crispy skin with me!) I happily discovered that my IL's did not have Turkey for Thanksgiving either so it will only be the H contingent that is getting it for the 2nd go around.
Hope to have my picture filled posts soon!