The Five Best Parts of a Roast Turkey

White meat or dark? The traditional Thanksgiving question. Usually, piles of meat are passed around on a platter–but that's ignoring some of the best cuts on the traditional holiday fowl.

Here are five of the best pieces of meat available on the modern American turkey–but you may have to go into the kitchen to get them before crazy Uncle Joe attacks it with the electric knife that gets used once a year.

5. The lower leg

Turkeys aren't like chickens, where one person eats the drumstick; theme parks and Renaissance fairs aside, turkey legs are normally more than one portion. Try to get the part that has the lower leg; while it's a little short on meat, what's there is much more flavorful than the wider part near the knee joint. If you can't get that, go for the wing tip instead.

4. The heart

This tends to disappear into the assorted bag of giblets, but the heart is one of the tastiest muscles on any animal, and turkeys are no exception; save it, brush it with garlic oil, put it on a skewer, and grill it. The real cook's treat!
3. The “oyster”

The oyster is a small, ear-shaped piece of meat that lays right where the leg attaches to the body; most people, being inept carvers of birds, completely shred it in their attempts to remove the leg. Be careful and save the oyster–and that doesn't mean the seafood in the dressing, either.

2. The Pope's nose

First of all, the “Pope's nose” is the tail, or, more correctly, the pygostyle; when most people roast a turkey, the bird is positioned so that every single droplet of fat that renders off the main part of the body coasts across the tail meat. This means that there's a piece of crispy-yet-tender meat, more than half fat itself, hiding at the base of the spine. Eat it!

1. The skin

Never mind that fake pork product; the real turkey “bacon” is the crispy skin on a perfectly roasted turkey. Unfortunately, it's the best-known delicacy, too, which means that as soon as the turkey comes out of the oven, you'll have skinburglars lurking in the doorway of your kitchen, hoping to catch you unawares so they can steal the good stuff–the darker, the better.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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