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Food & Dining // Table Talk
Jo McGarry

Talkin’ Thanksgiving Turkey Take-out

Maybe its because I’m from a place where the fourth Thursday in November is no different from any other cold and rainy autumn day, but I have always thought Thanksgiving to be the perfect holiday. With an entire day devoted to cooking and eating, and not a present to wrap or return, the day holds a singular charm that can’t be replicated. And while I love the ritual of cooking for hours and prepping food for days to make sure that our Thanksgiving dinner is memorable, I’ve recently added a few more items to our holiday table that don’t take much work at all. When the guest list rises to double digits, we cook one turkey (last year’s was brined, this year’s will be deep fried) and then order another turkey – to go. There are a number of reasons it works, not least the fact that while a 20-pound turkey may be needed to feed a crowd of hungry revelers, you’re never going to get great results from cooking a giant bird in a home oven, and a big bird just won’t fit in a deep fat fryer. Cooking a smaller, 12- to 14-pound bird and ordering a second one – or buying a ready cooked ham – to satisfy hungry guests and make mandatory take-home plates is an easy answer.

Panya Bakery has been cooking holiday dinners for seven years, and as word has spread about the quality of their food, orders are now at capacity.

“We started with only 50 dinners, the first year,” says Panya co-owner Annie Yeung. “By last year we did more than 150 dinners and this year we may do more.”

What’s great about the Panya Thanksgiving dinner is a unique fusion of local and traditional holiday dishes that include a Mochi rice stuffing made Chinese style with shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp and lap cheong. There’s also a non-traditional pupu platter that comes with an assortment of finger foods such as gyoza, spring rolls, salt and pepper shrimp, and tiny chicken wings and dip that are perfect to have out on the kitchen counter as guests arrive.

The hot dinner also comes with salad, house-made dressing, side dishes that include giblet gravy and a cranberry orange dressing, and a house-made pumpkin crunch. To grasp the enormous task of cooking more than 150 turkeys and all the side dishes in a 24-hour period, I spent time last year in the Queen Street kitchen that serves as Panya Bakery headquarters – and turkey central. I was amazed at the hands-on attention to detail that is a Panya trademark. Co-owner Alice Yeung makes every batch of giblet gravy because she wants customers to feel they’re eating freshly cooked food as if they were at her home. “It’s a lot of work,” say the sisters, who’ve built their reputation on hard work and quality food.

Orders for Thanksgiving Ham and Turkey dinners are being taken now – you’ll find details on the Panya website (panyabakery.com). All dinners are served hot and pick up times are assigned when you order. Panya also offers a wide selection of hand-baked pies, holiday cookies and desserts.

Happy eating!

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