This is the time of year when thoughts turn to family, shopping and, for many people, turkeys.

Chefs and food scientists alike have long debated the merits of various methods for cooking the Christmas bird. Now, a new study weighs in on an equally important matter: how best to sew a turkey up after pulling out its bones and shoving in the stuffing.

To answer that question, European researchers conducted an experiment with 15 turkeys weighing an average of about 8 pounds each. After getting deboned, cleaned and stuffed, the birds were randomly chosen to be sewn together with one of four suture patterns or with surgical staples. Then, each turkey spent two hours in an oven at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Three cooking experts evaluated the look of the skin before and after baking.

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Overall, staples performed best — with a cosmetic grade of 5 out of 5 before cooking and 4.6 out of 5 after cooking was done and staples were removed, the researchers reported in the journal Veterinary Record. Second best was the Utrecht pattern, which is the most popular method for sewing up the uterus of cows after caesarian sections. This method scored 4.6 out of 5 before and after cooking and 2.3 after sutures were removed.

The only downside to using staples is the possibility that a guest might swallow one. To be safe, the study recommends that its audience of veterinarians use sutures that the human body can break down and absorb.

“Using this technique you will be able to impress family and friends at a Christmas dinner and finally show them your surgical skills,” the researchers write, “even if you are called away for an emergency — as always!”

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