Thanksgiving turkey hysteria!

When Thanksgiving rolls around, everyone talks turkey.  Most of the talk makes the turkey seem like Public Enemy #1, as if it’s a landmine of dire health hazards sitting on your dining table.

  • Cook it to the right temperature!!!!
  • Don’t put stuffing in the turkey!!!
  • Throw out the leftovers!
  • Don’t thaw it on the counter!!!!
  • Don’t let it sit around!
  • Don’t eat the skin!
  • Don’t eat the dark meat!
  • Only buy organic!
  • Only buy fresh, never frozen!
  • Don’t make gravy!

Makes you wonder why anyone celebrates Thanksgiving at all anymore.

FACT: There was a time decades ago when none of this mass hysteria existed.  Fresh turkeys showed up in grocery stores around Thanksgiving, and again at Christmas.  People cooked them and enjoyed them — gravy, stuffing and all — and went about their business.  I can’t remember ever hearing that some unsuspecting family became sick due to turkey mismanagement.  Turkey wasn’t widely available all year long either.  You couldn’t buy deli turkey in plastic packages, or ground turkey or turkey sausages or cut up turkey pieces at the meat counter.  There was no giant turkey industry as there is now.  It’s sort of sad, because all this 24-7 turkey makes the Thanksgiving roast turkey less special.

Nutritionally speaking, turkey is pretty awesome.  Here’s a comparison of a few of the more notable nutrients for a 3-oz portion, without skin:

                White         Dark       Deli

calories         125          147        106

protein          25 gr        23 g       13 g

fat             1.7 g         5.1 g       4 g

iron             .6 mg        1.2 mg     1.6 mg

zinc            1.5 mg        3 mg        N/A
   
sodium           84 mg        88 mg      664 mg

B12             .31 mcg       1.4 mcg     N/A

Roast turkey gives a big protein bang for your calorie buck, so to speak.  As you can see, the dark meat has more fat, slightly more calories and also more of certain nutrients, such as iron, zinc and B12.  I included processed deli turkey for comparison.  Note the sodium content!  Note that it’s proportionally lower in protein.  Probably the added water.

I love unadorned roast turkey.  I’m not a fan of processed turkey products, especially pumped up with added salt, water and preservatives.  Water is second ingredient listed on some of these.  This stuff always looks like it was sliced off some pre-formed loaf of pressed turkey by-products, not from an actual real turkey.

Roast turkey is a no-brainer, assuming you have some basic kitchen skills.  The problem is kitchen skills are disappearing, leaving room for the Main Stream Media to promote Thanksgiving hysteria.  Basically you put the turkey, minus the little bags with the giblets, on a rack on a big roasting pan.  Set oven to 350º.  Roast until done, which is roughly 15-20 minutes per pound.  You can rely on those little pop-ups that come with some turkeys, or use your own roasting thermometer.  You can put stuffing in the turkey, made from some combination of bread cubes, vegetables, fruit, sausage and herbs.  Or if you’ve been scare-mongered, put the “stuffing” in a separate dish, or just don’t have it.  If you heat it in a separate dish, it won’t get the rich flavor and moisture created by cooking in the turkey.

There are so many great things about the simple Thanksgiving roast turkey:

  • the aroma of roasting turkey in the house
  • the addictive flavor of real pan gravy
  • leftovers
  • turkey stock made by simmering the bones and skin for hours
  • the turkey itself: flavor, protein, modest calories

The US government has some fear-mongering obsessive detailed thoughts on how to handle that scary Thanksgiving turkey.

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