With the blast of cooler air and some snow over the past couple of weeks suggested that winter and the holidays are around the corner, whether we are ready or not. That being said are you ready for Thanksgiving?
According to the National Turkey Federation, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, supposedly as a response to a campaign organized by magazine editor, Sara Joseph Hale. In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day forward one week, as it is presently celebrated. Bradford’s description of the Pilgrims’ first autumn in Plymouth makes it clear, “there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc.”
Nearly 88 percent of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation in 2016 at Thanksgiving ate turkey (I was likely part of the other 12 percent). On Thanksgiving alone 51.6, million birds of an average weight of 16 pounds are consumed. In total approximately 736 million pounds of turkey are consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving.
Benjamin Franklin, who proposed the turkey as the official United States’ bird, was dismayed when the bald eagle was chosen over the turkey. Franklin wrote to his daughter, referring to the eagle’s “bad moral character,” saying, “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country! The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America.”
As stated above, Turkey is not often my protein of choice, however I can certainly offer some guidance when it comes to food safety and preparing the holiday bird. First off, how much turkey do you need? A rule of thumb is to figure around a pound of turkey per person, kids will likely eat less and some adults more, but this gives us a starting point.
Once purchased, in order to protect the natural juiciness and flavor of the turkey from over cooking, one can brine a thawed bird overnight prior to cooking. If available at your grocer, consider purchasing turkey that has already been enhanced to save time and cleanup. Once you’re are ready to cook, it is not recommended that you wash the turkey, rather wash your hands before and after handling any raw poultry.
Whole birds need to be cooked until the thickest region of the breast and thigh reach 165 degrees internally. Using a meat thermometer is the only sure fire way to who when the desired temperature has been reached. The pop-up thermometer that comes in the bird is convenient but not always accurate. Any leftover meat can be refrigerated and used for lunch prior to kick off of The Game on Saturday.
One reminder to wrap up this week. For anyone who missed Beef Quality Assurance last summer. We have three more opportunities scheduled in Northwest Ohio. There will be in person trainings in Findlay, Ottawa, and Wauseon over the next month. More detail can be found at beef.osu.edu on the events page. I’ll finish up with a quote from Willie Nelson: “When I started to count my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving and Go Bucks!