Brett's Turducken Adventure
For Thanksgiving 2003, I decided to make a
For those who haven't heard of this creation before, a turducken
is a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck stuffed with
a de-boned chicken. Considerable amounts of seasoning and stuffing
are used between bird layers, so you can pretty much get an entire
Thanksgiving meal in each slice.
My experience was that creating a turducken is an immense amount
of work, and the resulting dish is somewhat disappointing.
For starters, the recipes I referenced called for huge amounts
of Meat Magic, and that was too much Magic for my taste buds.
A second problem was the bird skin. One article I had read
described how the duck and chicken skins would "melt" into the
meats, making for moist and flavorful poulty. My experience
is that "melt" is the wrong verb. I think "vulcanize" is
more appropriate. So standard eating proceduce for a slice
of my turducken began with fishing out the layers of rubbery
You can find a gallery of pictures from
my turducken experience here.
As I write this in 2006, it has been almost three years since
the events I'm describing, so my memory is a bit rusty. Thus,
instead of a detailed blow-by-blow, I'll just list a few random
observations and experiences.
- Deboning the birds is a lot of work. My mother-in-law
helped out by deboning the chicken and duck for me, but I did the
turkey myself. Having never deboned a bird before, and in fact
being mostly ignorant of bird anatomy, I found the process very
difficult. It's important that the turkey skin remain in one piece
to wrap up the final monstrosity, so I had to proceed very
cautiously, learning as I went. As I recall, I spent a couple hours
on this step.
- Go easy on the Magic Seasoning.
The recipe I followed called
for multiple bottles of the stuff (Poultry Magic, Seafood Magic, etc),
but I think I would have liked
the final product more had it tasted more of meat and less of Magic.
- Buy a turkey lacing kit. I initially sealed up my turducken
with wooden skewers, but that was hard work and looked like it was
about to burst. So my wife made an emergency trip to the supermarket,
where she found some neat Turkey Lacing Kits. Each kit consisted of
six or so sharpened metal skewers plus some string. They worked
wonderfully. One nice feature of the lacing kit approach is
that you can insert the metal skewers and then tighten up the laces to
pull the near-bursting turducken closed.
- Start early. I devoted a big chunk of the day before T-Day to
preparation, and in fact even did some prep the day before that, yet I
was still working non-stop with my wife until about 3am. There's just
plain a huge amount of work.
- I used an oven thermometer to make sure the oven temperature was
exactly what the recipe requested, yet I ended up having to cook it
for an extra 2-3 hours (I forget exactly how much) because the inside
just wasn't getting done. In my case it wasn't an option to start
baking the bird earlier than I did, since it simply wasn't ready yet.
- This is a cajun recipe, which means it's spicey. One of the
three stuffing mixtures in mine was quite spicey, and several guests
found it excessive. I grew up on turkey dinners that were totally
free of any spicey flavors, so it wasn't a different experience for me.
Luckily, with three different stuffings inside the turducken, if you
don't like one flavor you still have two other choices.
My advice to potential turducken chefs:
ordering a pre-assembed turducken.
- If you really want to make your own, consider having a Turducken
Prep Party 1-2 days before T-day. Invite over some friends, split into
groups, and given each
group a task. Obvious tasks include preparing each of the three birds,
and preparing each of the three stuffing mixtures. Provide lots of beer.
- Take pictures and/or video, because you probably won't do it again.
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