The domesticated turkey is a large poultry bird raised for food. The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey. Despite the name, turkeys have no relation to the country of Turkey and are native to North America.
The turkey is reared throughout temperate parts of the world, and is a popular form of poultry, partially because industrialised farming has made it very cheap for the amount of meat it produces. The average lifespan for a domesticated turkey is ten years.
The great majority of domesticated turkeys have white feathers, although brown or bronze-feathered varieties are also raised. The fleshy protuberance attached to the underside of the beak is known as a "wattle".
Turkeys are traditionally eaten as the main course of large feasts at Christmas in much of the world, as well as Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada. Turkeys were once so abundant in the wild that they were eaten throughout the year, the food considered commonplace. It has also displaced, to a certain extent, the traditional Christmas roast goose or beef of the United Kingdom and Europe. While eating turkey was once mainly restricted to special occasions such as these, turkey is now eaten year-round and forms a regular part of many diets.
In countries where turkey is popular, it is available commonly in supermarkets. Turkeys are sold sliced and ground, as well as "whole" in a manner similar to chicken with the head, feet, and feathers removed. Frozen whole turkeys remain popular. Sliced turkey is frequently used as a sandwich meat or served as cold cuts. Ground turkey is sold just as ground beef, and is frequently marketed as a healthy beef substitute. Without careful preparation, cooked turkey is usually considered to end up less moist than other poultry meats such as chicken or duck. Leftovers from roast turkey are generally served as cold cuts on Boxing Day. In Israel, turkey, rather than lamb is typically used to make shawarma.
Turkey is often found as a processed meat. It can be smoked and as such is sometimes sold as turkey ham. Twisted helices of deep fried turkey meat sold as "turkey twizzlers" came to prominence in the UK in 2004 when chef Jamie Oliver campaigned to have them and similar foods removed from school dinners.
Both fresh and frozen turkeys are used for cooking; as with most foods, fresh turkeys are generally preferred, although they cost more. Around holiday seasons, high demand for fresh turkeys often makes them difficult to purchase without ordering in advance. For the frozen variety, the large size of the turkeys typically used for consumption makes defrosting them a major endeavour: a typically-sized turkey will take several days to properly defrost.
Turkeys are usually baked or roasted in an oven for several hours, often while the cook prepares the rest of the meal. Sometimes, a turkey is brined before roasting to enhance flavor and moisture content. This is necessary because the dark meat requires a higher temperature to denature all of the myoglobin pigment than the white meat(very low in myoglobin), so that fully cooking the dark meat tends to dry out the breast. Brining makes it possible to fully cook the dark meat without drying the breast meat. Turkeys are sometimes decorated with turkey frills prior to serving.
The white meat of turkey is generally considered healthier and less fattening than the dark meat, but the nutritional differences are small.
Turkey is high in tryptophan, and is commonly credited with causing sleepiness after a meal; however, this is largely a misconception. Turkey dinners are commonly large meals served with carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol in a relaxed atmosphere, all of which are bigger contributors to post-meal sleepiness than the tryptophan in turkey.
Turkeys will range from 3kg up to 11kg so there is no point buying a 11kg if it is just 2 people eating it!
· 4kg Turkey will feed about 6 people with no much in the way of leftovers
· 7-8kg Turkey will feed up to 10 people
· 10-11kg Turkey is going to feed plenty of people, maybe 15-20
NB: Around 60% of the total weight of an uncooked Turkey will be lost in moisture, waste and bones after cooking. Yield is therefore around 40%
Turkey is now readily available year round, whether fresh or frozen
The breast should be large
Skin should be undamaged
No sign of stickiness
Legs should be black and smooth
Feet should be supple with small spurs
Older birds will have reddish scaly legs