what you thought you knew about turkeys

David Frickman
October 28, 2021

It’s getting close that exciting time of the year, when we get ready to eat that favorite of holiday meals, the Thanksgiving turkey.

But what do you know about turkey? Chances are, some of things you think you know about the bird are really only myths. Here are a few examples.

 Myth: There are no wild turkeys in Hawaii.

The wild turkey is an unexpected sight, but you can find them mostly on Hawaii Island and Maui. According to Hawaii Birding Trails, wild turkeys are nearly four feet long and easy to spot unless they’re nesting in tall grass. Tom (i.e., the male) turkeys will fan out their long tail feathers as a springtime mating ritual.


Myth: I can partially cook my turkey now and finish cooking it on Thanksgiving.

Don’t do it. Once you put your turkey aside and refrigerate it after partially cooking, bacteria will start growing and won’t be killed off in the short time it takes to finish cooking it later. If you want to save time on Thanksgiving, fully cook the bird, let it sit for 30 minutes so the juices can settle, carve, and store in the fridge on a dish covered in aluminum foil. Then just reheat when it’s time to eat. You might need to pour some gravy on the breast meat so it doesn’t dry out during reheating.

Here’s another little-known, time-saving trick: You can use your microwave to partially cook your turkey or complete the thawing process, but ONLY if you immediately take the bird from the microwave straight to the oven. That way, bacteria doesn’t have time to grow.

 Myth: Eating turkey makes you sleepy.

We all want to take that post-meal nap on Thanksgiving and we assume it’s the turkey that makes us want to curl up on the couch. But that’s not the case. Researchers at Johns Hopkins say the culprit is not the usual suspect, L-tryptophan, which is found in turkey but can only make you drowsy if there are no other amino acids present (which there are in turkey). The real reason for drowsiness, they say, is the high amount of blood flow from the brain to the stomach needed to digest the large meal you just ate. Drinking lots of water while you eat or taking a walk after the meal will help you fight off the urge to snooze.


Myth: You shouldn’t feed your dog turkey.

If your dog looks at you with those sad puppy eyes and a face that makes it seem like they haven’t eaten in days, it’s OK to slide them a little turkey from your plate. Turkey is rich in nutrients and is an ingredient in many dog foods.

But there are some precautions to take. The American Kennel Club says to make sure you feed your dog the meat only, not the skin or bones. Also make sure there aren’t any of the other side dishes from your plate sticking to the meat that could be toxic to your pet, such as onions. Even with all of these precautions, feed only small quantities of turkey, no matter how much those puppy eyes stare at you.


Myth: The only way to make kalua turkey is in an imu.

No, no, no. See this great recipe for making kalua turkey in an Instant Pot.

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