Great Holiday Cooking - Turducken
Turducken is a recipe that combines turkey, duck and chicken. It’s often popular in southern parts of the United States, where it’s sometimes deep fried in hot oil. Depending on the person using the recipe, turducken uses sausage or cornbread stuffing as additional filler. There are different versions of the recipe and theories of its origin.
One famous story claims that turducken was created by Paul Prudhomme, a famous chef known for his take on Cajun and Creole style cooking. According to the legend, Prudhomme was in Duvall, Washington for the Duvall Days event when he decided to combine the different ingredients to create something unusual and different. Another story claims the dish was created by Herbert’s Specialty Meats. Legend claims that this Louisiana shop was approached by a local, who asked them to combine the three birds into one dish. The store now sells thousands of turducken dishes every year.
A good turducken recipe starts with the brine. The brine preserves the meats and adds flavor to the overall dish.
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
Dash of pepper
1 gallon cold water
Combine the salt and sugar before pouring the water on top. Mix everything well until all the granules have dissolved. Place the mixture in the refrigerator while preparing the meats.
Turducken calls for turkey, duck and chicken. A twenty pound turkey is the best size, though a smaller or larger bird can also be used. The turkey should have the skin on, but be boneless except for the drumsticks, which still need their bones. A good butcher can easily prepare the turkey in this way. The duck should be 4 pounds, or a little larger, and be boneless and skinless. A three pound boneless and skinless chicken is also needed. Place the three types of meat into the brine and let them sit for at least three hours, and preferably overnight.
The next morning, set the oven to 500 degrees and begin making the seasoning blend.
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon pepper
Place the turkey on a flat workspace with the skin side facing down. Place a small amount of the seasoning blend on the inside of the turkey and cover with a thin layer of stuffing. This can be homemade stuffing or pre-made stuffing, and the traditional version is cornbread or sausage based.
Place the duck directly on top of the stuffing layer; add a dusting of seasoning blend and another small layer of stuffing. Lay the chicken on top of this layer; add the rest of the seasoning blend and the rest of the stuffing.
Run a metal skewer through from the bottom of the right side of the turkey to the opposite side and insert twine in the holes. This is known as trussing. Continue running the twine along both sides of the turkey, pulling the twine as tightly as possible. When the top of the turkey is reached, tie off the twine. This should now resemble a regular turkey.
Place the turducken into the oven and cook for 15-30 minutes, depending on the weight of the bird. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and cook for an additional three hours. The turducken is complete when the internal temperature of the chicken (the inside of the bird) hits 155 degrees.