Turkey meat: what are the most common cuts and how to best cook them

Video turkey meat parts

A meat that is often mistreated and relegated to the world of fitness; in reality the turkey is a tasty product, it has a firm flesh, with a delicate taste and it is rich in nutritional properties. Classified among white meats thanks to the low presence of myoglobin, turkey has a very low fat content and almost all are concentrated in the skin, as with all poultry meats. The peculiarity of this product is that it can be safely cooked and consumed in its entirety; the most famous example is the classic American stuffed turkey, the dish par excellence on Thanksgiving Day in America.

In 1600 the turkey was among the rarest and most requested animals in Europe to “adorn” the gardens of noble villas. Today it is among the most common farmed birds, even if the cuts between which to range are not very many.

For turkey there are various types of cuts in the world, for example in Italy there are only four cuts but, as we have also seen with beef, abroad there is a different classification; in the United States there are dishes prepared with the head and neck of the turkey and sometimes also the tail is used. An important thing to keep in mind for all the following cuts is cooking; turkey meat can only be eaten if perfectly cooked, otherwise you could face unpleasant intestinal unexpected events.

1. The turkey breast


It is the best-selling and most prized cut of the whole animal; a lean, very tender meat, suitable for the preparation of thin slices, it can be cooked in cubes, strips and so on and so forth. Important thing; many people think that turkey breast and turkey rump are the same thing but they are not. The rump is much appreciated by those who follow a low-calorie diet because it is rich in proteins and mineral salts but it is important to understand what it really is; it is a real cured meat obtained from the processing of the breast muscles, boned and cleaned, then processed and seasoned with a mix of salt and spices. Usually the rump also undergoes a smoking or caramel treatment. So turkey breast and turkey rump are two very different things.

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While we recommend the turkey rump especially for sandwiches, buns, toasted bread or wraps, and it is also appreciated in the form of scallop with beer, turkey breast is very suitable for slow cooking, especially in the oven it is really tasty. Also excellent as a scallop or, for the sweet tooth, cut into chunks, breaded and fried.

2. The turkey wings


The “middle” cut of the animal; thinner than the thighs but fatter than the chest. You can buy them both whole and cut and are really excellent cooked on the barbecue, in full American style. Also in this case, frying is a more than appreciated method; being an American animal, it goes without saying that the most popular cooking techniques are those from the New Continent. Fried turkey wings are tasty and very simple to make. Just follow the same procedures as for chicken wings and that’s it.

A little tip; ask your trusted butcher to debone the wings and, once at home, turn them into a stuffed roll (perhaps with ham and / or mortadella), they are truly a delicacy.

3. The turkey thighs


Very tasty cut of meat that goes perfectly with spices and flavors. A typical recipe is the Mexican thigh, prepared with many spices, but the tastiest recipe is probably the one that wants it cooked on the grill, together with some vegetable skewers to mix all the flavors. The thigh is the fattest part of the animal because it is richer in skin; try it in the oven or on the rotisserie, you will not regret it.


4. The turkey drumsticks


One of the most popular turkey cuts, the drumsticks are the part of the legs under the thighs. Their meat is tasty but less tender than the thighs because this is a part that is more “trained” by the animal during its life, therefore it tends to be hard. Precisely for this reason drumsticks are ideal for slow cooking, in the oven. Also excellent alla cacciatora, or cooked in a pan with fresh tomatoes and vegetables.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>