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Downsizing doesn’t mean easier

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If the overall restrictions, such as smaller groups, have been trying for families, then the quest for a smaller bird was maddening, too.

A survey of local grocery stores earlier this week showed that most had run out of smaller turkeys, which were quickly gobbled up by people scaling down their Thanksgiving gatherings, leaving only larger birds of 12 to 25 pounds or more in the store coolers.

“People are definitely buying smaller turkeys and smaller quantities than they used to,” said Margie Keller Perko, a co-owner of Keller’s Farm Stores. The first to go were turkeys in the 8- to 12-pound range, she said.

Another sign of the times is that Kellers was so swamped with orders for its complete dinners that “we had to stop taking orders, and that’s never happened before,” she said. Most of those orders for complete turkey dinners with all the side dishes and dessert were for two- to four-person and four- to six-person families, Keller Perko said.

And with restaurant dining rooms closed, many restaurants decided to generate what business they could by offering a carry out Thanksgiving menu.

Bryan Thompson, co-owner of the restaurant Rosemary, was busy preparing carryout Thanksgiving meals of garlic turkey or honey-glazed ham with four traditional sides and a dessert. The meals were portioned to feed four people.

“This is the first year we’ve done Thanksgiving like this,” he said, “and we’ll continue these family meals through December and into January, and come up with different menu items.”

Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q did a brisk carryout business, selling hundreds of smoked turkey breasts and holiday hams, manager Joseph Aragon said. Rudy’s did not sell the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.

For side dishes, many looked to the M’tucci’s Italian restaurants, where they took orders as part of their “Sides and Pies” meal kits.

“This is basically all the sides, except the turkey,” restaurant co-founder and president John Haas said. “You just reheat the sides and cook a turkey, and you’ve got dinner.”

This was the first year M’tucci’s has tried this approach to the holiday and the response has been great, Haas said.

New Mexicans seeking to put together their own Thanksgiving feasts – even on a smaller scale – faced plenty of challenges this year, with long lines outside many grocery stories. Even at Keller’s, the line for picking up a pre-ordered turkey or meal stretched down Eubank NE earlier this week.

Of course, there are benefits of cooking your own turkey, even if it’s larger than you needed: “Everybody loves Thanksgiving leftovers,” Keller Perko said.

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