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TALKING TURKEY WITH STEW LEONARD’S!
NORWALK, CONN., November 7, 2019 –Stew Leonard’s has been a top Thanksgiving shopping destination for 50 years. In the week leading up to Thanksgiving Day, the farm fresh food grocer will sell more than 70,000 Thanksgiving turkeys to our customers, which is more than 700 times the number of turkeys sold during an average week. Our chefs and bakers will also make enough gravy to fill up an entire swimming pool – which is about 20,000 quarts of gravy – enough pies to go the length of 97 football fields (45,000!), mash 10,000 pounds of potatoes, and bake a quarter-million dinner rolls. Our chefs are also kept busy fulfilling more than 4,000 catering orders!
But, every year, our customers ask Stew’s chefs the same five questions about the best way to choose, prepare, and cook their holiday turkey. This year, Stew Leonard Jr. shares his top turkey tips that he’s picked up over the course of his lifetime in the grocery business:
Q. What size turkey should I buy and how far in advance can I buy it?
A. Stew Leonard’s offers a range of sizes to meet everyone’s needs! Our turkeys weigh in anywhere between 12lbs to 28lbs! Now that’s a big bird! But I think that having leftovers is just as important as the big meal itself, so I always make sure that we have a bird that allows for 2lbs. per person. If you’re not a fan of leftovers though, I think that 1.5 lbs per person is just fine. Our fresh turkeys can be purchased 10 days in advance, giving you more time to prepare for the big day!
Q. What’s the difference between the different turkeys you sell?
A. Our fresh turkeys are from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and have no artificial ingredients added to them. My family always gets our all-natural free-range Naked Turkey from the Lehigh Valley to put on the table; these turkeys are fed a 100% vegetarian diet and are NEVER given antibiotics or added hormones. We like cooking this bird because it has 50% more white meat and 55% less fat than regular turkeys! You can’t buy a better turkey! We also have kosher as well as Organic turkeys.
Q. How should I store my turkey prior to cooking?
A. Once you have your turkey home, it should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is the bottom back corner. Keep it wrapped in the plastic until just ready to begin preparing. Our chefs also recommend putting the raw turkey on a plate or in a pan just to make sure no juices accidentally drip inside the refrigerator.
Q. How do I prep my oven and turkey before cooking?
A. I always follow a few simple guidelines to make sure our turkey is cooked to perfection. Prior to the big day I make sure the oven is clean as this helps concentrate the heat. Second, I make sure the oven is fully preheated. I generally turn the oven on when I take the bird out of the refrigerator to begin preparing it. That way, a bit of the chill is gone from the turkey giving it the opportunity to cook at a more even pace. Lastly, I always make sure that when I insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, the temperature reads at least 165 degrees F. Oven temperatures vary, so I always start checking my bird 45 minutes before I think it might be done just in case we can start eating earlier!
Q. Does your family stuff the turkey before roasting? I’ve heard it’s not safe but everyone seems to be doing it!
A. We like to use our chef’s Turkey Marinade inside of our bird- it gives the meat a wonderful flavor and the aroma is incredible! If your family really prefers to stuff your turkey, just be sure to place fully cooked stuffing in the turkey right before roasting, never the night before (this could grow bacteria), and make sure the stuffing is at least 165 degrees F before removing from the oven. Keep in mind that when you stuff the bird the cook time increases slightly, up to 5 extra minutes per pound of turkey.
MRS. LEONARD’S PERFECT TURKEY
As the wife of store founder Stew Leonard Sr., Marianne Leonard’s turkey has been the centerpiece of the Leonard family’s Thanksgiving celebrations for two generations. Here, she updates her classic recipe with the addition of Stew Leonard’s aromatics and using a Naked turkey, free of antibiotics and added hormones.
• 12-14 pound Stew Leonard’s Naked Turkey, rinsed and blotted dry
• 1 16 oz. container of Stew Leonard’s Aromatics
• 10-12 Sage leaves
• Salt & Pepper to taste
• ½ Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Mix Stew Leonard’s Aromatics (onions, celery, oranges, apples, garlic cloves, Marsala wine) with the bay leaves. Season the mixture with salt & pepper.
• Stuff the aromatics mixture into the turkey cavity.
• Rub the outside of turkey with extra virgin olive oil and then season it with salt & pepper.
• Cover turkey with a double layer of tin foil, tucked into the sides of the roasting pan.
• Cook turkey under foil in a 400 degrees F oven for 45 minutes then drop the temperature to 300 degrees F for about 2 hours, give or take.
• Remember: all turkeys will cook differently! Be sure to insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and cook until the temperature reads 180 degrees.
• To carve, head on over to Stew Leonard’s website for step-by-step directions!
OUR CHEFS MAKE IT EASY
Stew’s Catering teams offer a number of turkey options for Thanksgiving Dinner. For families who want their entire dinner catered from soup to nuts, there’s a Chef Prepared Dinner for 8 priced at $175 – which works out to about $22 per person! The Dinner for 8 includes a medium roasted Naked turkey, country-style stuffing, a choice of two sides, turkey gravy, cranberry orange sauce, snowball rolls, and either an apple or pumpkin pie. For only $24 more, customers can make their Dinner for 8 a WOW with the addition of 2 soups (Lobster Bisque, Butternut Squash or Pumpkin Bisque) and a deluxe salad (Caesar or Capri). Oven ready Naked, free range turkeys are priced are $90 for a large and $70 for a medium and can additionally be cooked at Stew’s for an additional $45. For smaller gatherings or for extra meat for your holiday table, Stew’s chefs also offer roasted sliced turkey breast ($70), beef brisket ($80), and spiral cut ham ($60 for a half and $100 for a whole).
These turkey options are in addition to nine favorite holiday side dishes, freshly prepared by Stew Leonard’s in-house chefs. Perennial home-style favorites, like Idaho Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Mousse, and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon are offered alongside Country Style Stuffing, Green Bean Almondine, and other delectable vegetable dishes. New side dishes this year include Roasted Cauliflower & Spinach Au Gratin and Broccoli Rabe & Roasted Garlic. Also available is Stew’s homemade Cranberry Orange Sauce, cooked up fresh with real cranberries, white sugar, cinnamon and an orange peel, while the Old-Fashioned Turkey Gravy is made with fresh turkey stock seasoned with fresh herbs and garlic. Customers can round out their dinner orders with ham, lasagna, and appetizer platters all designed to create a memorable and easy holiday feast. For complete Thanksgiving menus, see stewscatering.com to place an order up to one week in advance of Thanksgiving.
FAR FROM HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY?
Let friends and family know you’re thinking of them by sending a 9-11-pound smoked turkey from StewLeonardsGifts.com. This delicately cured bird is plump, tender and moist, and is ready to eat cold or served warm.
TURKEY EMERGENCY? CALL STEW’S!
Stew Leonard’s is open on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28, 2019. From a broken oven to a turkey that’s been nibbled on by Fido or Fluffy, our chefs are here to help with any turkey emergencies that day!
About Stew Leonard’s
Stew Leonard’s, a family-owned and operated fresh food store founded in 1969, has stores in Norwalk, Danbury, and Newington, Conn.; in East Meadow, Farmingdale and Yonkers, N.Y.; and in Paramus, N.J. Stew’s earned its nickname, the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” because of its country-fair atmosphere, with costumed characters and animated entertainment throughout the store that keep children entertained while parents shop. Stew Leonard’s legion of loyal shoppers is largely due to the stores’ passionate approach to customer service: “Rule #1 — The Customer is Always Right”; Rule #2 – If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.” This principle is so essential to the foundation of the company that it is etched in a three-ton granite rock at each store’s entrance. The company’s culture is built around an acronym for S.T.E.W.: Satisfy the customer; Teamwork gets it done; Excellence makes it better; WOW makes it fun. For more information, visit Stew Leonard’s website at www.stewleonards.com.