Turducken!

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  With this endorsement from a loving spouse I set out to cook a turducken.  My rationale?  “It’s my birthday.  I’ll cook what I want.”

easy to cook, easy to serve

Relegated to the universe of food porn & possessing those unfortunate first four letters, turducken’s much better than its reputation.  First, it’s efficient.  The recipe below is the size of a small turkey but serves 15 people.  It’s also fast.  Cooking time is a little over 3 hours.  And it’s good.

Folks pair sausage, oysters and all sorts of bold and briny tastes with turkey.  Why not duck?  It’s understandable that duck might be a bit too fatty for some.  And an easy solution’s to trim off most of the fat.  Duck is sinewy enough to hold together on its own, and the flavor profile is strong enough to maintain a unique character.  Plus it’s inside of the turkey, so don’t hesitate removing as much of the skin and fat as you’d like.

And don’t be intimidated by the preparation.  If you usually make turkey with sausage stuffing the only addition’s the duck.  Plus the duck goes inside so it’s OK to hack it up a bit while boning.  And if you have problems boning the turkey, you can roll the torso into a log, so that’s not a big deal either (I’ll do a later post on this technique).

I’ve deviated from tradition by using a turkey, duck and chicken sausage stuffing.  This provides the three principal tastes and lets me to show off by making sausage for the stuffing.

So give it a try.  I know you want to.

Turducken (serves 15)

  • 10 lb turkey, boned (see related post)
  • 5 lb duck, boned
  • 2 quarts chicken sausage stuffing (see related post)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, quartered
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp flour (for gravy)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare chicken sausage stuffing a day before as a time saver.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bone the duck, cutting off the wings and boning out the thighs and drumsticks.  Save the wings and bones for the cooking pan.  Cut off and discard the skin and fat from the top and bottom of the bird.

the duck with wings removed, thighs and drumsticks boned out, and much of the fat removed

the duck with wings removed, thighs and drumsticks boned out, and much of the fat removed

Bone the turkey, filleting off the fat from around the top and bottom of the bird.  Do not remove the thigh bones — they’ll add needed support during cooking.

remove some of the turkey fat if you'd like, but leave the skin whole

Stuff the duck cavity with two cups of chicken stuffing.  You can also season the duck skin if you think additional flavoring’s needed.  Lay the turkey on it’s breast and smooth a cup or more of stuffing on the inside.  Place the duck in the cavity, and then smooth another two cups of stuffing on top of the duck.

stuff the duck, then place some stuffing inside of the turkey breast

fill the front cavity with stuffing so that it regains its natural shape

Use a skewer and twine to close the neck cavity.

the wings will pull together when trussed. this is a good thing -- it adds extra support to the bird during cooking.

Flip the bird over and fill the back cavity with loose stuffing till it fills out to its natural shape.  Use a skewer and twine to close the bottom half of the back cavity.  Use twine to tie the legs below the back cavity skewer.  This will ensure that the bird holds its shape while cooking.

now it looks like a regular turkey

Line the inside of a dutch oven or cooking pan with duck wings and bones (including the neck) and the turkey bones and neck, add aromatic vegetables (carrots and onion), two cups of stock, and two cups of water.

don't forget to add the necks. break the bones down if they don't fit easily.

Situate the baking rack and carefully move the bird to the rack.  Rub the bird with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and paprika.  Cover with a loose lid or foil tent and place in the oven, basting after the first hour, and then each successive half hour.

if you're using bamboo skewers you can clip off the ends so they fit in the pan. also--don't forget to soak the skewers in water for 20 minutes so that they don't burn in the oven.

A boned bird will cook much more quickly.  In this case it will take a little over three hours.  The bird is done when the internal temperature is over 160°F.  Another indication of doneness is when the skin pulls back from the end of the turkey’s drumsticks and wing joints.  Most turkeys also come with a pop-up gauge.  You should keep this and trust its accuracy.

let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before moving to a cutting board. you can tent with foil if you're worried about it cooling off.

Once cooked, remove the behemoth from the oven and let sit in the pan, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, carefully move to a cutting board and remove skewers and twine.  Then take it to the table and have at it.

Note: While the bird is resting prepare the gravy.  Place the flour in a small pot or skillet and use the bulb baster to take out a small amount of stock, not the fat, from the cooking pan.  Whisk this together to make a roux.  Once all of the flour’s dissolved whisk in more liquid.  Place this on the stove at high heat and keep whisking till it begins to reduce.  Once the liquid starts to thicken take it off the heat and put in a serving boat.  Note that it will continue to thicken as it cools.

You can also use this time to sprinkle pan juices over the remaining stuffing and heat it in the oven.

Pairings: Serve the traditional sides — mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and greens.  Eat it with gusto!

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Filed under Main Courses, Poultry

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