A Christmas Turkey Stitch-Up

            The Holiday Season means that a very large number of turkeys will be gobbled up from Thanksgiving through Christmas. They will be prepared for our tables in a range of different ways. Deep-frying seems to be slowly gaining in popularity in spite of the fraction of practitioners that burn their garages down. Most will be roasted, dressed up in foil or not as the cook pleases.

For cooks that relish a challenge, deboning prior to stuffing and roasting is the way to go. The task takes on a blend of cosmetic surgery and taxidermy, as the final result needs to bring forth expressions of awe and appreciation for the hungry revelers around the groaning table.

This year we have some new advice. Verwilghen, Busoni, van Galen and Wilke have published the ultimate teaching aid in the current issue of Veterinary Record (1). They have the final word on the closing argument.

Various suture patterns were tested on 15 turkeys. The standard procedure of the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety & Inspection Service was followed to the letter to get them deboned, stuffed, and roasted; only the suture methods were varied. Five closure groups were tried in triplicate as would suit government inspectors.

For the technical among us who are interested in fancy needlework, the closures were: firstly simple continuous (most of us can mange that), followed by the Lembert, Cushing and Utrecht Variations, and lastly surgical staples. The Utrecht and Stapled turkeys looked OK, whilst the others looked like they had been through an autopsy.

After the turkeys were roasted and rested, they were ready to have their stiches taken out. Only the staples had a good cosmetic result. Yanking the stitches damaged the skin resulting in cries of sympathy from the team; not a result that you’d want around your festive table.

  1. http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/169/26/685.abstract

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