Each Thanksgiving, Americans buy about 45 million turkeys. Many would-be holiday cooks are heading "back into the kitchen for the first time in a year," says Sherrie Rosenblatt, director of public relations for the National Turkey Federation. It's no wonder that many of them have urgent questions and not just a few crises. Luckily, answers to common cooking queries abound: on Web sites, such as that of the National Turkey Federation (www.eatturkey.com); from hotlines, such as Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line (800.BUTTERBALL); and in handy brochures at most natural foods stores, where free-range turkeys are more likely to be available.
But what about getting answers to those rare bird questions? Take this quiz to test your turkey savvy.
1. How many turkeys are raised each year in the United States?
2. What's the difference between free-range turkeys and conventional turkeys?
3. How can you cook a turkey if your oven is broken?
4. What's the most popular way to serve leftover turkey?
5. Is dark meat or light meat healthier?
6. What happens to all those feathers?
7. Can turkeys fly?
8. Do all turkeys gobble?
9. What country consumes the most turkey?
1. In 2000, about 267 million turkeys were raised in the United States, according to the National Turkey Federation. Of those, 45 million were eaten at Thanksgiving and another 22 million at Christmas.
2. All turkeys are hormone-free because no hormones have been approved for use on turkeys. Antibiotics are allowed, however, and the Food Safety Inspection Service of the USDA randomly tests flocks for residue. Unlike some conventional turkeys, free-range turkeys roam outside and often aren't fed antibiotics or animal by-products.
3. Believe it or not, you can use a tabletop electric roaster (details at www.eatturkey.com).
4. In a survey conducted by the National Turkey Federation, the top five leftover dishes were: sandwich, soup or stew, casserole, stir fry, and salad.
5. White meat has fewer calories and less fat than dark meat. Four ounces of roasted light meat has 178 calories and 3.7 grams of fat. The same amount of dark meat has 212 calories and 8.2 grams of fat. A 15-pound turkey typically has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
6. Turkeys have about 3,500 feathers at maturity. Most of the turkey feathers are composted or thrown away, but some get put to use for pillows, Native American costumes, or as quills for pens. And rumor has it that Sesame Street's Big Bird wears a costume of turkey feathers.
7. Domesticated turkeys can't fly. Wild turkeys, however, fly for short distances at up to 55 miles per hour, and they can run 20 miles per hour.
8. No. Only tom (male) turkeys gobble. Hen (female) turkeys make a clicking noise.
9. According to the USDA, Israel consumed the most turkey in 1999—more than 28 pounds per capita. The United States was a close second, consuming almost 18 pounds per capita.
Sources: National Turkey Federation; Wild Oats Markets; USDA; The Nutribase Nutrition Facts Desk Reference (Avery Publishing Group, 1995).