Turkey Types

Get recipes and cooking techniques based on type of meat: white, dark, ground, and sausage.

Get recipes and cooking techniques based on type of meat: white, dark, ground, and sausage.

Becky Luigart-Stayner 

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White Meat
White-meat turkey cuts come from the breast. You can find whole turkey breasts with skin that come boneless or bone-in. Tell your butcher the weight of skinless, boneless turkey breast you need, and have him remove skin and bone while you shop. A boneless turkey breast half, with skin, is sometimes labeled "boneless turkey breast roast." These cuts are wrapped in netting and are not always one whole breast half; you may find small portions of meat in addition to the breast half. To remove the skin, you need to remove the netting, cut off the skin, and replace the netting to hold the roast together. Skinless, boneless turkey cutlets, also known as turkey scaloppine, are a good substitute for veal cutlets in sautéed dishes. Turkey tenderloins can be roasted or cut into thick medallions or “boneless chops” for sautéing because they don’t brown well when baked as a whole tenderloin.

 Recipes:
Turkey Breast with Spinach-Feta Stuffing
Turkey Scaloppine with Porcini and Marsala

Dark Meat
Economical and tasty dark meat parts include drumsticks, wings, and thighs. It is no secret that poultry skin contains plenty of fat, and removing it reduces the fat by about one-third, but these cuts aren’t always skinless. It’s easy to remove the skin from drumsticks and thighs. Skinless drumsticks are best cooked in a moist medium to braise the tough meat and tenderize it, rather than with the familiar roasting method. Cut-up skinless, boneless turkey thighs, which must also be simmered to juicy tenderness, are a good replacement for red meat in stews. Taking the skin off raw turkey wings is virtually impossible. Instead, simmer them in broth to flavor soups, then remove the skin from the wings, and chop the meat to add to the soup. Chill the chopped wing meat and broth separately, and skim the fat before finishing the soup.

Recipes:
Amish Potpie with Turkey Wings
Belgian Turkey Ragout

Ground Turkey
Not all ground turkey is created equal. Regular ground turkey (labeled 93 percent lean) is a combination of white and dark meat and is fairly high in calories and fat, but it’s still leaner than ground round (usually 85 percent lean). Frozen ground turkey, which is all dark meat and can contain skin, can be just as high in fat as ground beef. Ground turkey breast is the lowest in fat, but it can dry out.

When cooking turkey burgers and meatballs, use regular ground turkey, and add something to moisten it and a little binder (like breadcrumbs) to retain moisture. Use ground turkey breast in saucy and soupy applications to keep it from becoming dry.

Recipe:
Turkey–Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy

Turkey Sausage
Fresh turkey sausages are pork-free, as the casings are made from vegetable cellulose. They’re made from ground turkey seasoned in various ways. Remove the casings, and cook in a pan, stirring to crumble. Or broil, grill, or pan sauté whole sausages with the casings. Pierce whole sausages several times before cooking to help avoid curling at the edges.

Cooked turkey sausages can be lower in fat than traditional sausages, but they may be smoked and relatively high in sodium, so reserve them for an occasional treat.

Recipes:
Turkey Kielbasa Choucroute
Italian Turkey Sausage with Three Peppers

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