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Ground Turkey vs Ground Chicken – And How To Roast A Turkey…

People have always been divided when it comes to the preference between turkey versus chicken; this is a dilemma that most people face when shopping and it is no surprise therefore that there are tons of forums where this issue arises.

When it comes to ground meat, there are very many options, and while you may have gone to the store to get one kind, the variety could end up getting overwhelming. The thing is that both turkey and chicken are great options.

However, you should base your decision on the kind of recipe that you are dealing with as well as your preferences. Here is some info to help you regarding ground turkey vs. ground chicken.

Ground Turkey

There are tons of options regarding ground turkey leanness. Often, you will find that the percentage lean lies in the regions of 85-98%.

The color too varies depending on the quantities of white meat and dark meat in play. In a case where the manufacturer used a lot of dark meat, say from the drumsticks and thighs, the resultant hue will be that of dark pink.

This meat will also have a low lean percentage. Where the manufacturer uses a lot of white meat such as that from ground turkey breast, the shade will be a light pink, and the meat will have a high lean percentage. You will note that the consistency of ground turkey is much softer than what you would get from ground pork or ground beef.

Ground Turkey Nutrition

When it comes to nutritional value, lean ground turkey has 22 grams of protein, 180 calories, and 10 grams of fat in a 3 ounce serving on average. Suppose you go for the 85% ground turkey, you are looking at 240 calories, 21 grams of protein, and 17 grams of fat in the same serving. If you want to go healthy, I bet you know which direction you should choose.

Ground Chicken

When it comes to appearance and nutrition, ground chicken meat and ground turkey meat have a lot in common. Percentage leanness in ground chicken also varies, and it lies in the regions of 80-95%. This percentage owes to the quantities of meat used in making the ground chicken.

A lot of dark meat in play results in a dark pink hue and the product will have a low lean percentage. If the manufacturer opts to have more quantities of white meat than dark meat in play, the appearance will be a slight pink color.

Ground Chicken Nutrition

In a 3 ounce serving, lean ground chicken provides you with 9 grams of fat, 170 calories, and 22 grams of protein.

Health Matters

While it is true that we often associate turkey with the Thanksgiving holiday, there is more to this bird than meets the eye. It might even prove to be better healthwise than chicken. Let’s break down what they have to offer to get to the bottom of this debate.

Nutritional Benefits

At a glance, you would think that the two have similar nutrient profiles. Look at it this way. They are both white meat, and they belong to the same family of food. As such, you would think that substituting one option for the other would not affect the nutrients that you would derive from meat. But while that may be true to some extent, these two types of meat have many differences.

Calories

You will note that they both have few calories and are thus an excellent option for anyone trying to boost their health. However, there is a difference in the number of calories that they offer. While it may be small, it still has an impact. Turkey has fewer calories when compared to chicken. However, given the negligibility of the difference, we can let this pass, or not.

Fat

When people think of a way to reduce the fats that they take in, there is a lot of focus on white meats, making both turkey and chicken winners regarding health. Turkey is leaner than chicken in this regard by about half a gram per three ounces. So for fats, the turkey wins.

Protein

If you are looking to up your protein intake, then turkey is your best bet. With 28 grams per serving, it beats chicken protein with 3 grams, thus emerging the winner.

Minerals

Turkey also has more selenium and copper which are minerals known to boost the immune system. Chicken, on the other hand, has loads of niacin which works to prevent diseases such as dementia and Alzheimers.

By looking at all these facts, it is clear that when it comes to a comparison between Ground Turkey vs. Ground Chicken, there is no clear winner. The differences are quite negligible, and the turkey comes out on top by a minimal margin. It is a matter of preference. As such, I say eat what gets your stomach juices pumping.

But before we go…

…let’s have a look at the best way on how to roast a turkey to get the best results!

How to Roast a Turkey

Here in the States, we eat turkey on Thanksgiving, the third Thursday in November. Roast turkey has fond memories for many of us. A poorly roasted turkey has bad memories for many of us, too.

Dry, overcooked turkey can ruin a great family occasion. Our fear of undercooked poultry, combined with a lack of knowledge, has caused many turkey dinners to be dreadful. Roasting a turkey is actually very easy. It’s just a matter of some basic preparation. Bacon helps too.

A Bit of History

roasted bird, thanksgiving birdThe turkey, misnamed after a guinea fowl from Turkey, originated in Mesoamerica and was domesticated by Aztecs long ago. The Spanish brought the turkey to Europe where many advances in breeding happened.

Oddly enough, an English navigator brought the turkey to England, after which it was sent to the new colonies. In the 16th and 17th centuries, turkey was considered a luxury in Europe, while in America it was a very common meat source.

Nowadays, the turkey is farmed extensively enough in most places that it is available frozen all year. That means we don’t have to wait for fall harvests to enjoy this large, delicious bird.

Turkey Juice

turkey bird, bird for dinnerOne mistake most people make when roasting a turkey is that they tend to try to speed up the process by roasting at too high of a heat. Turkey, or any large roast, needs to be slow-roasted, generally at 325F or below. Another common mistake is to forget to baste. Turkey releases a lot of its own natural juices in the cooking process. If these juices aren’t reclaimed the bird can become quite dry. There are a few tricks to help with this. A timer set at 20-minute intervals, to remind you to baste, works well.

Wrapping the bird in bacon helps too. One trick I use when I have to make a lot of birds is to start with the turkey in an upright position at 400 degrees for the first hour, then flip it upside down and lower the heat to 300. The idea is to get good color on the bird, then slow cook it with the juices from the dark meat self-basting.

Another method is to put the turkey in a “turkey bag”. This is a large plastic bag that can take high heat. This helps the bird steam, resulting in a moist turkey. Take care when opening the bag, as the steam will be very hot. Lidding your roasting pan will also help keep the roast moist through steaming.

Crispy Skin

baked bird, cooking birdTo get that crispy skin there are a few other tricks of the trade. Always pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Wet skin doesn’t crisp well. Starting the oven out at a high temperature, such as 425F, for the first 30 minutes will help as well.

My favorite technique is to cut thin pats of butter and insert them in between the skin and the meat, placing them every few inches. This does double duty by both adding moisture and fat, creating self-basting and crispy skin. Let’s get started.

Roast Turkey Ingredients

1 turkey, thawed
1 stick butter, cut into pats

Method

methods of cooking poultry, cooking poultry temperaturePreheat oven to 425F. Rinse the turkey inside and out, removing all debris from the inside. Save the organs from inside the bird to make stock for gravy, if desired. Pat the entire bird dry.

Twist the wings behind the back of the turkey so that the breast is completely exposed. Gently slide pats of butter between the skin and the breast, spacing the pats about two inches apart.

Place turkey in a shallow roasting pan, and place in oven. Lower heat after 30 minutes and cover with aluminum foil or a lid. Baste every 20-30 minutes.

Here is a general timeline for roasting times, courtesy of Eatturkey.com.

8 to 12 pounds2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds4 1/2 to 5 hours
24 to 30 pounds5 to 5 1/4 hours

Turkey is fully cooked when it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the thigh. Thigh meat takes longer to cook than breast meat and is juicier, so avoid temping the breast as more thermometer holes mean less juice. When the turkey is fully cooked, let it sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. This allows the natural juices to settle and the meat to rest.

A note on stuffing; I personally don’t believe the risks of undercooked stuffing outweigh the benefits of cooking inside the bird. I never cook stuffing inside the bird. The same flavor can be achieved by making a stock out of the internal organs and using that to make the stuffing. Feel free to place the stuffing in the bird after the turkey is fully cooked and resting, it will pick up a lot of the juices, safely.

Get your gobble on and enjoy!

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a freelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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