How to make a Turducken

November 24, 2009

With Thanksgiving a mere 48 hours away -depending on when you eat-, there is a lot of prep to do if you’re going to host the meal. However if you really want to impress your family and friends (especially if John Madden is coming to dinner) you can make the most heralded thanksgiving birds. You’ve always said you wanted to try and cook this, well now you can actually man up and do it. Prepping this concoction is quite a chore so it’ll probably take you most of a day, so set aside most of tomorrow to start this beast. Ask Men does a great job explaining the turducken and how to prepare it.

The Turducken

A turducken is a partially deboned turkey stuffed with a partially deboned duck, which is stuffed with a partially deboned chicken, which is stuffed with, well, stuffing. And if that doesn’t sound like four-fifths of wonderful, you may be a vegetarian.

Needless to say, a turducken is a solid slab of meaty goodness, and the great thing about it is that this beastly threesome can be cooked in just about any way imaginable: roasted, barbecued, braised, or even grilled. We advise only that you don’t try to deep fry this bad boy. It just won’t work.

The invention of the turducken is somewhat disputed. Some say that Creole master-chef Paul Prud’homme is the man responsible for this triple stack of goodness when he whipped one up at a festival in 1983. Others say that a shop called Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, began producing turduckens in 1985.

Ingredients: We suggest you get a turkey between 20 and 25 pounds, a four- or five-pound duck and a chicken of between three and three-and-a-half pounds.

Round off those purchases with about four cups of your favorite prepared stuffing. We recommend sausage stuffing for the inside of the chicken and bread stuffing that will sit between each layer of meat. With some chopped garlic, sage and thyme, some room-temperature butter and good old salt and pepper, you’ll be off to the races.

Preparing: The trickiest part of the job is boning the meats, so if you can get your butcher to arrange this for you, do so. If you’re feeling brave and prefer the hands-on approach to deboning meats, we wish you the best of luck. Aim for a nearly boneless turkey with just the leg and wing bones remaining, and a completely boneless duck and chicken.

Build your turducken by first combining the garlic and herbs with the butter. Work this mix under the turkey’s skin, then splash the outside of the turkey with oil and season generously.

Spread out the turkey, skin-side down, on a flat surface. Season it with salt and pepper, layer the meat with bread stuffing and lay the duck skin-side down inside. Repeat the same procedure to stuff the duck with the chicken, and fill the chicken with the sausage stuffing.

Close the turducken carefully. The best way to seal it up is by folding up each layer separately and sewing it shut with a curved packing needle. You could try using skewers instead, but you won’t be guaranteed a nicely sealed package.

Once you’ve stitched up the assembly, lift it gently — get a buddy to help you if necessary — into a large roasting pan. Bake it at 300F in the oven for at least four hours. Baste it hourly with pan juices, and if the turducken starts to brown too much, tent it with foil. Once the center of the chicken stuffing reads 165F, it’s done. Take the beast out and let it rest for a good half hour.

Carve the turducken — across the breast — at the table so you can show off all those great layers, and serve with the same fixings you would for any holiday meal.

It should end up looking like this:

There is a slightly variation on the turducken here. Its a Turbaconducken. Its exactly what you think it is… glorious.

If you don’t feel like you’re enough of a man to create your own turducken, you could always try another way to prepare your bird (single) that will be impressive and delicious as well. Here’s what you do.

Deep Frying a Turkey:

Prep work: You’ll need a 40 or 60 quart pot with basket or turkey frying hardware, plus a propane gas tank and burner, a candy/deep fry thermometer, a meat thermometer and lots of oil. Use oils that have a high smoke point, such as corn, peanut or canola oils.

You should also keep a fire extinguisher and plenty of heavy duty pot holders nearby. An injector to add marinades and seasonings to the meat is also good to have, although you can make a plain turkey without it.

As far as the turkey itself goes, smaller birds work better for frying. Try not to go over 15 pounds.

For the most flavorful birds, Before cooking you can inject the turkey with your favorite marinade and/or rub it with a dry spice rub. You will also need about 3 1/2 – 5 gallons of oil in which to fry the turkey

Before beginning, (and before you even season or marinate your turkey) determine the amount of oil you’ll need by placing the turkey in the basket (or on the hanger, depending on the type of fryer you are using) and putting it in the pot. Add water until it reaches about two inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and note the water level by using a ruler to measure the distance from the top of the pot to the surface of the water. Remove the water and thoroughly dry the pot. Now add enough oil to equal what the water level was without the turkey in the pot.

Frying: Using the candy thermometer to determine temperature, heat the oil to about 325°F and no higher than 350°F. This usually takes between 20 to 30 minutes. Once the oil is hot enough, place the turkey in the basket or on the turkey hanger and slowly lower it into the pot.

Not let her fry. With whole turkeys, you can estimate on about three minutes per pound to cook. Remove turkey and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. The temperature should reach 170° F. in the breast and 180° F. in the thigh.

An injector, which resembles a large hypodermic needle, allows you to inject a marinade directly into the meat. While you can make a fried turkey without this step and get a moist bird, it won’t be as flavorful as if you take the time to inject your bird with marinade about a half hour or so before frying.

While we tried many of the injector needles on the market, the plastic models are our favorite. We found that the metal needles break easily and these tend to be more flexible. We found ours at a dollar store.

Fill your syringe with marinade and inject it into both sides of the breast, the legs and the thighs of the turkey. Don’t be afraid to move the needle around to get the marinade into the whole bird. Sometimes it’s easier to get the thighs from the inside of the cavity.

This should end up looking like this:

Now you have a few options to impress your family and friends. Just make sure if you’re deep frying the turkey, you don’t burn your house down. It’ll make for a fun story but a problem for future Thanksgivings at your house. So just make up your best mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy and enjoy your food coma.

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