They’re both birds, and they kind of look the same before cooking. Are turkeys and chickens the same thing?
The Short Answer:
No, turkeys and chickens are completely different birds.
The Long Answer:
Apparently, this is a question that people have. Well, let me put this debate to rest before it even begins. A turkey and a chicken are not the same things. They are completely different birds, but they are cooked similarly.
A lot of the confusion likely stems from the fact that both turkeys and chickens are a form of poultry.
What is poultry you ask?
Poultry is the word describing a series of domesticated birds that are kept by humans for their meat, eggs, and/or feathers. We get the word poultry from a French word, “poule” which means “small animal.” Humans have been raising poultry for thousands of years.
Turkeys and chickens are not the same things, but they are related. They share the same kingdom, phylum, class, and order. Turkeys belong to the subfamily Phasianidae and the genus Meleagris. Chickens belong to the Phasianinae subfamily and the Gallus genus, so they’re entirely different.
To further illustrate the difference between turkeys and chickens, let’s take a look at where these two birds come from.
Turkeys originated in North America. They reached Europe by way of import. The majority of them were transported by merchants from the country of Turkey, hence their name. Chickens descended from the red junglefowl. The earliest record of their domestication comes out of Asia, Africa, and Europe, but it was not for food. Originally, chickens were bred for cockfighting, a barbaric and currently illegal sport in which two roosters battle to the death.
During the reign of the Roman Empire, chickens were considered a sacred animal with prophetic powers. They were revered as oracles if you can believe that.
When it comes to cooking, they’re strikingly similar. Turkeys are much larger than chickens. Chicken has more calories, fat, and cholesterol than turkey, but there is also more protein to be found in chicken meat.
Roasting a turkey and roasting a chicken are very similar in nature. Just remember that because the turkey is larger, it’s going to need a little more of everything. You’ll need a larger roasting pan, more seasoning, a longer brine time, and a longer cooking time.
How do you prepare a turkey? Is it different from chicken? Which of these birds do you prefer on your dining room table? Comment below and let us know.