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Turkey Tails

Turkey Tails - The controversial part of the bird - with recipes

The Controversy

turkey tails Turkey tails also called turkey butt, tsofi  or chofi  are among the most controversial foods in the world. And, unlike other parts of the turkey, this cut is very high in fat.

Not long ago people who raised turkeys would boast about using everything except the cluck, but with turkeys so often sold in plastic wrap from grocery stores, parts rarely chosen by customers are seldom made available to customers. Turkey tails are one such part.

In an attempt to maximize the profit and reduce waste a market was found for this cut especially in places such as Micronesia, Samoa, and Ghana, where they were sold cheaply and enjoyed voraciously.

Unfortunately, they were consumed to the point where they were deemed to be creating a health risk. Eating too much fat caused obesity and cardiovascular problems.

In Ghana, the FDB (Food and Drugs Board) banned the importation of this cut as a health measure in 1999. After that, turkey tails were smuggled in. And when the government threatened to take action to enforce the rules against turkey tail sales in 2010, sellers of the product complained that that would eliminate their source of income and force them into criminal behavior.

Since 2007,independent Samoa has also banned tails.

In 2009, Micronesian high school students from Chuuk, Kosrae, Nanpei, and Yap debated the following hypothetical resolution:

"BE IT RESOLVED THAT, in the interest of improving the health of the citizens and residents of the Federated States of Micronesia, the importation of the following items into the FSM shall be prohibited by law:

  1. Turkey Tail;
  2. Canned Corn Beef;
  3. Spam;
  4. Instant Ramen Noodle; and
  5. Such other products as may be determined by statute or regulation to be unhealthful."
  6. Moderation

    So, let’s start with the realization that this cut is not a health food, and it should not be a main staple of your diet. On the other hand, it is no worse for you than other forms of animal fat. If you live where it is still legal to eat this fatty morsel you might want to celebrate your freedom by trying this cut occasionally and in moderation.

    We are at a time when some of us are eating all parts of animals in an attempt to support sustainable agriculture as well as to rediscover and enjoy foods of our ancestors. So we will look at some recipes for this cut.


    Turkey tails are often used in the same manner as pork fat for cooking greens or beans and they can easily substitute for pork fat ounce for ounce.

    Tails can also be grilled, fried, deep fried, barbequed, smoked, stir-fried, and as noted below, added to soup.

    Luken's Turkey Tails

    Here is another popular recipe.

    Adobo Turkey Tails

    3 lbs turkey tails
    ½ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
    1 cup water
    ½ cup rice wine vinegar
    2 bay leaves
    3 cloves of garlic chopped
    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    Place tails in a single layer in the bottom of a large pot. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes turning the tails once.

    If making ahead of time, refrigerate the tails in the cooking sauce. The fat will rise and can be removed before finishing the dish.  Dry the tails with a paper towel and grill or broil the tails until browned and crisp. In the meantime reduce the cooking liquid to about one cup to create adobo sauce.

    Serve the tails with the sauce and white rice.


    Talk to your butcher - and have him talk to his turkey supplier if he isn't familiar with this cut. Turkey tails are available in some farmer's markets at certain times of the year, especially around the holidays, and they can be ordered through specialty butchers and turkey processors.  On occasion they show up in supermarkets. Of course you can buy them on the internet. They are available smoked or plain.
    If you have used this product in a recipe that turned out terrific, please share it here.

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Copyright © 2009 - 2019 The Perfect Turkey
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