WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Fate of Those Other Turkey Parts

Nov 23, 2012

A wild turkey
Credit National Geographic

Many Americans have leftover turkey after the Thanksgiving holiday, but some parts of the bird never even make it to the table.

The gizzards, testicles, and that dangling red thing called a wattle are parts of the turkey that usually do not end up next to the sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving Day or in the fridge afterward.

Kyle Cecil, University of Illinois Extension Educator of Local Food Systems and Small Farms, said  that was not always the case.

“You didn’t waste anything, I mean those were important parts of the animals that you used for protein, so it was always used,” says Cecil.

Cecil said parts such as the heart, gizzard, neck and liver are still used by some to make giblet gravy or for a flavoring agent, but those parts most often end up being used in dog food here in the states.

However, in other parts of the world, such as Middle Eastern countries, these turkey parts are more commonly eaten.

Cecil said -- ironically and somewhat appropriately, depending on your tastes -- the giblets are called the offal, pronounced like the word awful. This is a term used mainly by butchers or turkey processers.

Cecil also said most broiler turkeys from supermarkets are artificially bred because they are physically unable to mate.