Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Last Meal of 2006: Turducken

For New Year's Eve dinner, we planned to order a Turducken from the Food Network-approved Cajun Grocer website. However, the cost of the beast plus shipping, turned out to be rather high, so my friend and I decided to make our own. It was an intimidating undertaking, but we succeeded. The finished product absolutely justified the several hours of prep work. Here's how we did it.

1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds)
1 whole duck (5 pounds)
1 whole turkey (12 pounds)

1 pound of pork sausage
4 boxes of Jiffy cornbread, prepared according to package
~ 1.5 cups broth (any kind will do)
chopped fresh sage, about 10 leaves

salt & pepper
olive oil

large roasting pan with handles
butcher's twine
3 skewers (wood ones need to be soaked in water overnight)
meat thermometer (ideally a digital probe)

The day before you plan to serve the Turducken, de-bone all three birds. This site has easy-to-follow instructions and simple diagrams. You'll need a sharp knife; kitchen shears and a co-cook also are really helpful. Begin with the chicken, especially if you're a novice at de-boning poultry: the chicken is in the middle of the Turducken, and no one will be able to see if you've made a mess out of the meat/skin. The chicken is also the easiest to manipulate, and it doesn't take much to pop its joints. Wrap the de-boned carcass in plastic wrap, and move on to the duck. Be forewarned that the duck is a bit greasy.

The de-boned duck will look like this:
>By now, you've de-boned two birds, so you'll be feeling pretty comfortable with the poultry anatomy by the time you get to the turkey. Take care not to break through its skin, as the turkey holds the whole mess together. *Do NOT remove the drumsticks and wings from the turkey.

Once you've finished preparing the birds, go ahead and make some cornbread. We simplified the situation by using only cornbread stuffing in our Turducken, instead of the 3 kinds the Paul Prudhomme uses in his epic recipe. We used four boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, which produced two good-sized loaves.

This is about all you can do the day before. Do not pre-assemble the Turducken, the stuffing will get contaminated with bacteria by sitting in raw meat overnight.

The day you plan to serve the Turducken, start by making the stuffing. Brown the pork sausage in a skillet (do not drain off the fat), mix with cornbread pieces, sage, and enough broth to moisten the bread and bring it all together. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

To assemble the Turducken:

Lay out the turkey carcass, open and skin-side down:Season the cavity with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing evenly over the cavity. Lay the duck carcass on top, skin-side down.

Season the cavity with S&P, spread stuffing evenly over the duck.

Lay the chicken carcass over stuffing, skin-side down.

Spread stuffing over the chicken. Bring up the sides of the chicken, seal with a skewer. Bring up the sides of the duck to cover the chicken, skewer closed.

Repeat with the turkey. Secure the bird bundle with butcher's twine and remove all skewers.

It is now officially a Turducken!

Place Turducken in the roasting pan so that it is seam-side down and breast-side up. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil. Cover the Turducken loosely with tinfoil to prevent over-browning.

Roast at 300 degrees for about 4 hours, or until the meat thermometer shows the internal temperature at 165 degrees. When it reaches about 140 degrees, remove the tinfoil to nicely brown the skin. Remember to baste it occasionally, about every 30-45 minutes.

After removing the Turducken from the oven, LET IT REST for at least 30 minutes before carving. Slice across the breast to show off those pretty layers:
The pan drippings and browned bits in the roasting pan make an excellent gravy, so just go for a simple flour/fat/water version, made right in the roasting pan on the stove.

This makes a hearty 12-14 servings, and the total cost of the ingredients came to about $55.

So there you have it. The Holy Grail of Culinary Projects can be achieved in a New York City apartment kitchen!


Patricia Scarpin said...

I've never heard of turducken before - I'm amazed by your skills, Kelly!

It looks pretty hard to be made!

Maryanna said...

Wow. That's amazing!

I've wanted to try turducken for some time, but I don't know if I'd ever have the motivation to make one for myself.

Rachel said...

Wow! That is impressive!