Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Frontiers: Turducken

Last night I put three very important items in my fridge to thaw: a chicken, a duck, and a turkey. That's right, I'm making turducken for Thanksgiving this year. I've thought about making a turbaconducken (say it like the Swedish Chef on The Muppets would say it), but I decided that I'd better just work on getting a regular turducken right first.

The most expensive of the birds would normally be the turkey (mine was labelled as almost $25), but my local grocery store is selling 12 to 14 pound turkeys for only $6, with the purchase of $25 worth of other groceries. But since this is Thanksgiving, we already had that many groceries that we needed to buy anyway.

The idea on the turducken was to build a composite recipe from five other existing recipes online. This proved to be more difficult than I expected. The basic idea behind the turducken is this: remove all (actually, just most, from what I can tell) of the bones from all three birds, then stuff the chicken inside the duck and the duck inside the turkey, with stuffing between all three layers. As it turns out, a lof of people have a lot of different ways to accomplish this, and as we already know, a lot of people really don't know how to write recipes.

This can be partially forgiven with the turducken. It would seem that this dish is all about technique. Don't even think about making it unless you're really good at deboning poultry. Then there's the matter of how to stuff the birds inside each other. We also need at least one additional recipe, which is the stuffing to go between layers. This explains why so many photos accompany the recipes. Unfortunately, as we have seen in myriad videos on Make and Instructables that shouldn't have been on Make and Instructables, video can be an especially poor replacement for well-written instructions, and people that try to get away with letting the photos tell the whole story are just as bad.

Even worse, some of the recipes couldn't be so kind as to call for "X cups of stuffing", etc. They had to provide a recipe for the stuffing, and didn't bother to mention the yield. One of the worst offenders would call for "4 servings Andouille smoked sausage" and then provide a recipe that yielded 5 cups, but did not specify how large a serving was. The composite recipe was a mess, and due to format that I was using, did not go into any detail about the construction and cooking of this dish. When I first started working on the composite recipe, I hadn't even bought the ingredients, and it was already one of the toughest recipes I'd ever tackled.

So here's the drill. As has become tradition, my family is having our Thanksgiving dinner on Friday, so that all of the siblings can spend Thursday with their spouses' families. Since my wife and I will be done with everything by mid-afternoon, we'll be picking up my brother on the way home, and he will help me assemble this monstrosity. My camera has been acting funny lately, but I will try and get a detailed photo journal of the whole experience. Once assembled, the raw turducken will be covered and placed in the fridge overnight, and then put in the oven Friday morning to be done in time for our lunchtime Thanksgiving meal.

I hesitate the post what I have of my composite recipe right now, partly because I haven't finished working out the plans for my own recipe, and partly because the rest of the recipes were such a mess that they wouldn't look good. But that doesn't mean I can't at least post the links to the recipes that I will be studying over the next few days:

Turducken Recipe from
Turducken by Paula Deen
Untested Turducken from RecipeZaar
"Award Winning Turducken Recipe" from CajunGrocer
Illustrated Turducken Recipe from Instructables

The sizes of the birds that I have picked up are:

Turkey: 14.11 lbs
Duck: 5.51 lbs
Chicken: 3.80 lbs

I still need to formulate a stuffing recipe. This would be trivial, except that my sister-in-law has some food issues. I thought about making cornbread stuffing, but milk proteins make her sick. I'm still unsure as to how she'll respond to a sourdough stuffing or something. I'll be consulting with them, and coming up with something soon, I hope.

If anyone else wants to try out this monstrosity while I do, feel free to post a link here for everyone to see. I'll be posting my version hopefully on the following Saturday, barring any unforeseen events.

1 comment:

  1. We've made cornbread with Silk before. I personally don't like the way it tastes plain, but it works well in recipes or on cereal. Even the light varieties.


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