Turducken

Turkey, Stuffed with Duck and Chicken
Paul Prudhomme is rumored to have created this monstrosity, and John Madden has talked about it during the holidays for as many years as I can remember. A couple years back I made one of these over at Jeff and Denise's for Thanksgiving (and Denise wrote a limerick abut it). Shortly thereafter Cassia and Pete asked me to make one for New Year's Eve. Each time I make it it gets easier to do and better to eat.

For 16

Ingredients

15+ # Turkey, Boned (except the wings and drumsticks)
5 - 6 # Duck, Boned
3 - 3½ # Chicken, Boned
If you call your local butcher, he'll likely be happy to do this for you, and if you ask nice, you'll likely get the bones too so you can make stocks.

Cornbread Stuffing
Pecan Stuffing
Andouille Sausage and Shitake Mushroom Stuffing
Cajun Seasoning (left over from the Andouille and Shitake stuffing)
2+ T Canola Oil
1 Stick of Butter
¼ Cup of Bourbon (Jack Daniels or Knob Creek)

Butcher's Twine
6 Poultry Needles/Lacers
Meat Thermometer

Directions

Didn't read it in the ingredients? Get your butcher to bone the birds for you. I know how to do it, and know I'd rather have someone who does it on a daily basis just take care of it for me.

Oh, and you'll want to have ordered these a few weeks in advance to be sure you get all three birds (ducks are sometimes tricky to get).

Alright - you'll want to make your stuffings the several hours before you start your assembly so that they're good and cold before putting them inside the layers of the turducken. Why? To prevent any possible salmonella from having the poultry cook a little bit from warm stuffings and then sitting in a fridge overnight. Because you totally want to get this put together the night before, so you're not getting up at 5 in the morning to wrestling with poultry in an effort to create and get a turducken in the stove.

So, once you've made your stuffings, and they've cooled down nicely, it's time to get to creating the turducken. Rinse your three birds with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Oh, and set out a roasting pan. If you have one of those angled racks, that's great, and set that into the pan. If you don't, it's not the end of the world. Regardless, have the pan at the ready, off to the side someplace.

Cut 4 36" segments of twine, and on one end of each, tie a little loop. Lay these down, left to right, on your counter, spaced evenly apart from one another. Cut another segment of twine, again, about 36" long, and set aside.

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Lay out your boned turkey, skin side down, on your counter, so it's on top of the twine you just lay down. Take your cornbread stuffing and pat it all over the turkey meat, covering its surface. Depending on the actual size of your turkey, you may have some extra cornbread stuffing.

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Now lay down your duck, in the same direction as the turkey (i.e., if you faced the breasts away from you with the turkey, do the same with the duck). Take the pecan stuffing, and similar to the cornbread stuffing, pat it all over the duck, covering its suface.

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Wait for it... yep, now lay down your chicken, same direction as the turkey and the duck, and pat the andouille and shitake stuffing over it, covering its surface. Likely you'll have some extra - that's a good thing, and just keep it to the side.

Now for the "tricky part". Depending on how big your duck and chicken were compared to the turkey, you'll either be able to somewhat easily pull the two sides together and start to cinch them together with the twine you lay underneath the turkey layer - otherwise you might want to wake up the person in the next room to give you a hand.

So as you pull the two sides together, pulling the left and right sides of the turkey layer together, take the unlooped end of the twine and feed it throgh the looped end of the twine, and start to pull the turducken together. As you're getting that closer, don't worry if some of the stuffing falls out - a) you've got lots of it in there, and b) once this is assembled, you can push any that fell out back in.

Take your poultry needles/lacers, and stick them alternatingly into the left and right sides of the turkey layer, piercing through to the other layers. What you're going to do is lace this up like a shoe: take the extra piece of twine and tie it to the loop of the closest lacer to you. Now lace it across to the opposite side, slipping it into the lacer and twisting, then across to the other side, back and forth, pulling as you go so as to pull the turducken together.

Note: this is nearly as hard as it reads. Bottom line is no one is likely to see you doing this, so a) don't worry if it doesn't go right first off, and b) once you get this in the oven and it cooks all day, when it comes out, it'll look right, and, more importantly, it'll taste awesome.

Back to the assembly. At this point you should have the turducken all wrapped up and tied. Now you'll want to take and carefully flip it and put it into your roasting pan (either into the rack, or right into the pan). Once you've done this, you can adjust it and ply it with your hands to make it look a little more even. Take any of the stuffing that fell out and either push it into the turducken, or put it into the bottom of the pan.

Almost there. Pour a couple of tablespoons of canola oil over it and the ¼ cup of bourbon. Cut your stick of butter into pats, and place over the turducken, being sure to get one pat at each of the wing joints and the drumstick joints (so they don't get all dried out), and sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of the leftover spice mixture from your Andouille and Shitake stuffing evenly over the outside. Take any of the extra Andouille and Shitake stuffing and put it in the bottom of the pan, and Ta-da!

So, next morning, get up early (oh, say, 8 to 10 hours before you plan on eating), and pre-heat your oven to 225°. Once the oven hits temperature, pop your turducken in the oven. After about 4 hours, cover it with tin foil. After 2 more hours, remove the tin foil and start basting it about once every half hour.

Depending on the size of your birds and the amount of stuffing and the consistency of your oven, the turducken will cook from 8 to 10 hours. The turducken is the only reason I have a meat thermometer - just about anything else you cook you really don't need one for. You need one for this, because of all of the layers of meat and stuffing make it hard to gauge just how far long things are to the eye and to the touch. You want to hit about 165° as an internal temperature on it. Sometimes if I'm cooking one and it's been 8 hours and it's hanging around 140° or so I'll bump the oven temp to 300° for the last hour or so.

When you hit 165°, take the pan out of the oven and let sit for an hour, covered with tin foil.

After about an hour, you can serve the turducken. Remove it from the pan, and cut free your strings, and with a good, sharp knife, start cutting through it so you have nice layered rolls of turkey, stuffing, duck, stuffing, chicken, stuffing. I usually remove the lacers as I go along so I don't have to try to flip it to take them out.

If you have the time and energy at this point, you can take the drippings that are in your roasting pan, along with the bits of stuffing and andouille sausage that are bound to have fallen out, and set it over medium heat. Add a little bit of corn meal and bourbon and whisk it together and you'll have a delicious chunky gravy/sauce to pour over the turducken.

Enjoy!

Good Prepping & Dining Music


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