Learn to Master an Uncommon and Tasty Dish for Thanksgiving
Story & Photography Provided by New Kitchen Store
Are you looking to impress your friends and family this Thanksgiving? To truly put your culinary skills to a test? We have just the thing for you.
Consider turducken. What on earth is this, you ask? Well, glad you asked. Turducken is a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, then stuffed into a mostly deboned turkey. It’s layered with savory stuffing, usually a sausage stuffing inside the chicken and between each bird.
From the outside, it looks like a traditional roasted turkey, because you leave the wings and legs attached, to make shaping the stuffed birds much easier. Carving is easy, as the duck and chicken are completely deboned.
Turducken’s origin is unknown, but it is widely believed that chef Paul Prudhomme invented the dish sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. He trademarked the name in 1986 and served it at his restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.
The practice of cooking a meat inside another meat, called engastration, probably goes back to at least ancient Roman times. Seems chefs have always been looking to up their game and do something different.
Sports commentator John Madden made turducken famous after his first bite at a New Orleans Saints Game. He fell in love with it and mentioned it at every Thanksgiving Day game thereafter.
There are many recipes available online for Turducken. You can also find many different completed and cooked versions for sale online.
You will need a 15- to 20-pound turkey, thawed and deboned, except for wings and legs. Remember that a turkey can take four or five days to thaw in your refrigerator. You will need a five- or six-pound duck, and a three- or four-pound chicken. These will be completely deboned. You will need a very sharp knife, and you will be using mostly the tip, as close to the bone as you can.
You will need two to two and a half pounds of giblets, and use both chicken and duck giblets. You will need close to a gallon of good stock. You will want to debone your birds first, and use the bones and necks with about two gallons of water to make your stock. Remember to roast those bones for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven. Then, put them in a large stock pot with two gallons of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for two to three hours. You want to reduce the stock by half for a good, rich flavor.
When deboning, it is probably best to start with the chicken, then the duck, so that by the time you get to the turkey, you should have deboning down. With the turkey, you want no mistakes. You want the skin without any holes or cuts, and you do not want it to dry out.
You will need several pounds of your favorite sausage to make the stuffings, along with cornbread and any other desired stuffing ingredients.
Start several days in advance. Make your stuffings in advance. Debone your birds and construct your turducken the day before. Plan on about five hours for this step.
Recipes can vary a great deal in cooking temperatures and times, so look through several recipes and see which one you like. I think a roast of nine or 10 hours, at 190 degrees, is preferable.
That said, it is important to know your oven’s actual cooking temperatures when it is cooking. When you have your oven at 325 degrees, is it actually at 325 degrees? Ovens can vary by 20 degrees or more from the temperature you actually pick.
This dinner is not for the faint of heart, but if you want to impress everyone, this is the way to go. People will talk about it for years to come.
Remember to read through several recipes. Once you pick the recipe you like, get all of the ingredients ahead of time and plan your time. Start a week ahead for thawing, stock making and other steps. Enlist the family, turn it into a family affair and have fun with it.
Good luck and good roasting!