Thursday, December 25, 2008


I've been fascinated by the Turducken ever since I saw an ad for one a few years back. There's a sort of culinary machismo to making one of these. First you partially bone a turkey. Then you stuff it with layers - a layer of cornbread or highly seasoned bread stuffing, a boned duck, a layer of sausage stuffing, a boned Cornish game hen and a dollop of oyster stuffing.

The last few years have been The Years of Buying Groceries Wholesale which means getting frozen chickens by the dozen. A person can get tired of roast half bird. I've relieved the monotony with things like curry and tikka. Some time back I decided to learn how to do the kitchen equivalent of the Neutron Bomb. Destroy the bones, but leave the meat in one piece. After one or two inadvertent dinners of chicken hash later the technique was pretty much dialed in. If you haven't tried it you really should. The extra prep time more than pays for itself on the other end. The bird cooks faster and more evenly.

There were no game hens in the freezer, so this year it was just a Turduck. Last night I took the turkey and a duck out of the freezer and thawed them overnight under cold water. By morning the duck was just thawed. The turkey still had a little ice in the body cavity. Perfect for food safety and thawed enough for deboning.

Extracting the skeleton was routine. The turkey is bigger than a broiler chicken, and the keel presents some challenges, but the bones are all in the same place.

The traditional stuffing is a little over-seasoned for Tiel's tastes. I cooked up five or six handsful of couscous, mixed it with 3/4 cup of slivered almonds, a few serving spoonfulls of apricot preserves, cinnamon and three tablespoons of butter. The duck was stuffed with wild rice and shiitake.

Deboning the birds reduced the cooking time from six hours to four and a half, not bad for less than an extra hour of prep time.

Was it worth it? Yes, I think so. The variety of textures and flavors is very nice. The turkey soaks up some of the oil from the duck leaving both birds about as oily as they should be.

Next year I'll make sure we have a game hen. If I'm feeling adventurous maybe we'll have emturduckenrow.

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