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Turducken – The Turkey, the Duck, and the Chicken

Turducken

Photo Credit: Simon Doggett https://goo.gl/hCUkam

There is a popular expression about hitting two birds with one stone, but turducken brings everything up by one level because this dish is all about three birds in one roast. The word turducken is a combination of three words: turkey, duck, and chicken. It is a dish that brings a new twist to the traditional Thanksgiving centerpiece while increasing its feeding capacity.

How the Turducken Came to Be

In Delish – Holiday Recipes Section’s The History of the Almighty Turducken, Justine Sterling says, “For those not intimately acquainted with this meat masterpiece, the turducken consists of a de-boned chicken stuffed inside a de-boned duck stuffed inside a de-boned turkey. Each layer is padded with stuffing. This new beast is then prepared as a traditional turkey would be: roasted, braised, fried, grilled, barbecued, it’s up to you.

“In its glory days, the turducken was popularized by the great Chef Paul Prudhomme, but no one is exactly sure who invented it. We do know it originated in the specialty meat stores of South-Central Louisiana. There is some evidence that it may have found its American origins in a meal created by the unnamed owner of Corinne Dunbar’s, a Creole restaurant in New Orleans…”

Sterling also says that “…the tradition of putting birds into other birds can be traced back to earlier European history. One of the most notable being the rôti sans pareil consisting of 17 different birds starting with a garden warbler and ending with a bustard made in 1807 by Grimod
de La Renière for a royal feast. This is still not the oldest evidence of the tradition.

“Similar creations were made by the Romans. There is also Kiviak, a traditional
Christmas dish from Greenland that consists of defeathered seagulls wrapped in a freshly-disemboweled seal carcass, which is then buried and left for months to ferment…”

The modern turducken probably draws from these culinary traditions, and it is now steadily growing a following composed of people who want to have their turkey served in a totally different way.

How to Cook Turducken

Food expert Peggy Trowbridge Fillipone shares her recipe for turducken in About.com – Homecooking Section’s How to Make Turducken Recipe – Step by Step Recipe. She says this “combination of tur(key), duck, and (chick)en. It is fast becoming a popular recipe for Thanksgiving. Each slice contains portions of chicken, duck, and turkey with stuffing in between the layers. Plan on adequate preparation time. It’s not difficult to make, but it is a little time-consuming. The end result is a worthy show-stopper…”

Her recipe starts with a turkey weighing about 12 pounds, deboned except for legs and wings. The she adds a deboned six pound duck and a four pound chicken, also deboned.

The deboned turkey is cut across the back, seasoned fully, and its exposed meat is covered with stuffing. The deboned duck is then cut across the back and laid on the turkey and covered with stuffing. The third bird, the deboned chicken, is also cut across the back. Its open abdominal cavity is likewise covered with stuffing.

When all three birds have been layered, the trussing begins. First the chicken is trussed with a long skewer so that its back is closed; then the same thing is done to the duck and finally to the turkey. What you want is a compact, well trussed trio. This is to be placed, seam side down, on a heavy roasting pan.

Trowbridge’s instructions for cooking include roasting the turducken at 350 degrees F for  three to four hours or until a thermometer stuck into the center reads 165 degrees  F. The turducken is to be basted once every hour with pan juices. To prevent the skin from burning, cover loosely with a heavy duty foil tent coated with vegetable spray.

Pairing Turducken

You can serve your turducken pretty much with any wine that would go well with turkey. Zinfandel is a popular match for turkey, so it should work well with your turducken. A lot also depends on the “fixings” that you serve with this dish, so the spices and herbs of your stuffing and your side dishes need to be considered when you choose you wine.

You might want to serve a Pinot Noir or a Merlot, but there is nothing to stop you from serving white wine, if that is what you prefer. A full-bodied white will do just fine with your turducken, but if you are a beer drinker, go ahead and indulge. The important thing is for you to have the drink that will help you enjoy your turducken to the fullest.

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