Image description: Let’s talk turkey: a guide to understanding USDA poultry grades, terms, and cooking recommendations.
Grade A is the most common grade of poultry available in retail stores. Grade A whole birds are plump and “meaty.” They have significant fat under the skin, which provides moisture during cooking. The birds are symmetrical, with good bone structure.
Grade A boneless poultry products are free of bone, cartilage, tendons, bruises, and other defects.
Young birds are tender poultry, suitable for all cooking methods - especially broiling, barbecuing, roasting, frying or grilling. Young chickens are labeled are cornish game hen, broiler, fryer, roaster, capon and young hen/chicken. Young turkeys are labeled as young tom/hen/turkey or fryer-roaster. Common cuts like breasts, cutlets or tenders are typically made from young birds.
Mature birds are less tender and best when used for stewing or baking. Mature chickens are labeled as stewing chicken, baking chicken or mature chicken/hen/fowl. Mature turkeys can be labeled as yearling turkey, mature turkey or old turkey. Their flavor is often preferred for soups, casseroles, salads or sandwiches.
Tip #1: Cook with the skin on to keep meat moist and flavorful. Just remove it before serving to eliminate extra fat and calories.
Tip #2: Try a dark meat cut, such as legs or thighs, when grilling. The slightly higher fat content will help the meat stay moist.
Cook poultry to 165°F.
Infographic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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