are large poultry
eaten at Christmas in Britain and Australia, and Thanksgiving in the United
States and Canada, though they also make up
a more regular part of some diets.
the name, turkeys do not come from the country of Turkey. They are native
to North America. English is
not the only language to make this allusion, however.
turkey have a very different taste from farm raised turkey. Almost all of the
meat is "dark" (even the breasts) with a more intense turkey flavor. Without proper
preparation, turkey is usually considered to end up less moist than, say, chicken or duck.
to World War II, turkey was
something of a luxury in Britain, with goose or beef a more common Christmas dinner
(In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol
had a goose before Scrooge bought him a
turkey). Intensive farming of
turkeys from the late 1940s, however, dramatically cut
the price and it became far and away the most common Christmas dinner meat. Leftovers
are generally served as cold cuts on Boxing Day.
kill a live turkey, withhold food for a day to help ensure the digestive system
is empty. Putting the turkey in a bag, with one corner cut out for the head, helps
keep the turkey from thrashing and damaging itself or the people involved in preparing
it. One method is to hammer two nails into a stump and bend them, then put the
turkey's head on the stump and turn the nails to hold the turkey's head still,
then remove the turkey's head with an axe. The turkey will thrash for a few moments.
Hang it upside down to bleed for a half hour or so. Then pluck it. Smaller feathers
can be pulled off in a bunch; larger feathers need to be removed one at a time
so as not to tear the skin. Stubborn feathers can be pulled with pliers or a forceps.
When all the feathers are removed, rinse the turkey's anus to remove any residue,
then insert a sharp knife just below the hip bone, but not so deep as to puncture
any of the internal organs. Cut down and around on either side of the anus, making
sure it's angled up to keep any excretion off the meat. Carefully pull out and
discard. Then reach inside the turkey and remove all organs, as well as large
globs of fat. If desired, the heart, liver (slice away from other innards, being
careful not to puncture the green gall), and gizzard can be saved for giblets.
If the gizzard is saved, slice it in half until the gravel inside grates against
the knife, then slice around and open up, peeling away the inner layer and discarding
the contents. After all the organs have been removed, turn the turkey around and
cut around the circumference of the neck and peel down, exposing the esophogus
and windpipe. For each, separate them from their attachment points and pull them
out, including the crop in the case of the esophogus. Rinse the turkey out with
cold water and, if desired, hang and chill for a day or so before freezing.
fresh and frozen turkeys are used for cooking; as with most foods, fresh turkeys
are generally preferred, but cost more. Around holiday seasons, high demand for
fresh turkeys often makes them difficult to purchase without ordering in advance.
However, the large size of the turkeys typically used for consumption makes defrosting
them a major endeavor: a typically-sized turkey will take several days to properly
are usually baked in the oven for several hours, though in some areas, particularly
the American South, they
may sometimes be deep-fried in hot oil (often
peanut oil) for
30 to 45 minutes. Deep-frying turkey has become something of a fad, with hazardous consequences
for those unprepared to safely handle the large quantities of hot oil required.
Christmas in Britain, turkey is traditionally served with winter vegetables including
roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and
parsnips. Cranberry sauce
is the traditional condiment in the northern rural areas of Britain where wild
cranberries grow. In the south and in urban areas, where cranberries until recently
were difficult to obtain, bread sauce was used in its
place, but the availability of commercial cranberry sauce has seen a rise
in its popularity in these areas too. Sometimes sausagemeat, cocktail sausages
or liver wrapped in bacon is also served
(known as bacon rolls or "pigs in blankets").
during holiday seasons, stuffing is traditionally served
with turkey. There are many varieties: oatmeal, chestnut, sage and onion (flavoured bread), and sausage (possibly
with mashed potato) are the most
traditional. Stuffing may either be used to stuff the turkey (as the name implies),
or may be cooked separately and served as a side dish.
Thanksgiving in the United States, turkey is traditionally served with cranberry sauce
and gravy. Other
items vary, but common complementary dishes include mashed potatoes, dinner rolls,
various vegetables such as corn, squash, sweet potatoes,
and various types of pies for dessert (such as pumpkin,