Cook's Corner

Cook’s Corner: What Is A Turducken?

A turducken is a boneless turkey stuffed with a boneless duck and then stuffed again with a boneless chicken. This bird of three has stuffing placed between the layers.

Making a Turducken.
Making a Turducken.

There is a lot of preparation that goes into this big bird. All of the juices of the turkey are absorbed by the other fowl.

Who, when, where and why someone came up with this bird is attributed to several different stories. But the bottom line is that many people credit Louisiana with this culinary invention. All one has to do is shop around the internet and you will find a turducken.

In my findings, there are many different variations of the turducken. The variations mainly fall into the stuffing you put between the layers of this bird. My mouth was watering when I did my research and found these variations. There are the Cajun and sausage turducken, the boudin turducken, cornbread and sausage turducken, jambalaya turducken and smoked turducken stuffed with shrimp and crawfish. Now don’t all these sound like something that came from Louisiana?

Speaking of my research, some reports say that the turducken is related to the Yorkshire pie. There is a Yorkshire Christmas pie that involves stuffing pigeon, partridge, goose and turkey all into one another and then putting them into a pie crust. Yorkshire is located in northern England. The Yorkshire Christmas pie evolved from meat pies.

Putting together a turducken is time-consuming, considering you have to debone three birds. But once you get that done, the fun part starts: layering and stuffing. The first turducken I made was stuffed with vegetables and sausage. Anything goes here! Be creative with your stuffing to make this bird different.

How To Prepare A Turducken

Directions:

(First prepare the stuffing of your choice to fill your turducken.)

Preparing all three birds is basically the same. However, with the duck you may only get the breasts and no legs. In that case you will need to debone the duck off the rib cage and remove the duck wings.

Start with the chicken first and place the chicken breast-side-down on a cutting board.

With a sharp deboning knife, start at the neck. Make one cut down the back. While doing so, filet the skin off the meat to the tail. Do this on each side of the chicken’s backbone. The skin should be still attached to the bird and laid to the side exposing the back and rib cage.

Starting back at the top of the neck, you will cut the meat off along each side of the backbone. Cut the meat off the shoulder blade. Remove shoulder blade. Continue cutting the meat off of the rib cage. When you find the shoulder joint (wing area), cut the wing off. Save the wings for later to cook up or use for your stock.

Continue cutting down to the tail. It may be a bit messy, or you may get unclean cuts if it is your first time. But you will be sewing it back up, so who cares? Just keep that skin in shape as much as you can.

Find the thigh joint, and cut through that. Or you can pop the thigh joint with your hands. Now that you know exactly where this joint is, cut the meat off the thigh and leg bone. Do this by making a slit through the meat down the bone. Here again it gets a bit messy and hard to cut. Do the best you can to remove this bone.

Do the same process for the turkey, except leave the wings and leg with bone in on the turkey. Lay the birds as flat as possible and ensure the rib cages are completely out.

NOW THE FUN PART!! Assembling the turkey. With the skin side down, generously season your birds with salt and pepper.If you are leaning more toward a Cajun bird, sprinkle with Tony Chachere’s seasoning.

Use the stuffing of your choice. Put the stuffing on top of the turkey. Once you have the stuffing evenly spread on the turkey, place the duck on top. Add another layer of stuffing on the duck. Place your chicken on top of the duck and add another layer of stuffing.

The last step is to close the bird. You may need someone to help with this. Your helper should hold the bird together. Use a trussing needle and kitchen twine to sew the skin back together. Start at your first original cut. Roll your bird over, breast side up, and continue to tie your bird up. Wrap the kitchen twine around the entire bird several times and tie the legs to the bird.

Gently lift bird to a roasting pan. Brush your bird with butter and add a little chicken stock to the bottom of the pan. Cover your turducken with aluminum foil. Bake about four hours. For the last 30 minutes, take the cover off and baste and bake until golden brown. Be sure to use a meat thermometer and check that your bird has reached 165 degrees.

Let your bird rest for about an hour before removing twine and slicing.

Oyster stuffing.
Oyster stuffing.

Oyster Stuffing

(recipe by Debra Lehr)

Ingredients:

4 large stalks celery

1 large onion

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

2 teaspoons sage

2 bags Pepperidge Farm sage bread cubes

3 cans oysters

1-1/2 cups chicken broth

Directions:

Cut onion and celery into bite-sized pieces. Sautee onion and celery in butter until tender. Add sage and poultry seasoning. Remove from stove. Cut oysters into small pieces. Add oysters to celery and onion mixture. Place bread cubes into a large bowl. Add celery, onion and oyster mixture to bread cubes. Add chicken broth. Place stuffing in a 9×13 pan. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.

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