A trio of bird species, laid out in a pile and tied up, makes for a colourful and scrumptious conglomerate.
“Turducken, that’s right.” I said to our editor, repeating the pronouncement I’d just made about the dinner I was planning.
“What’s a turducken?” she looked at me, somewhat befuddled.
“Well, it’s a turkey, stuffed with a chicken that, in turn, is stuffed with a duck!” was my reply.
“That’s for real?” she wanted to know.
It is. In the United Kingdom, a turducken is a type of ballotine called a “three-bird roast” or a “royal roast”. (A ballotine is traditionally a boned and stuffed thigh from a chicken, duck or other poultry.)
Having savoured this scrumptious meal in past times, I’m delighted to invite you to try a special entrée that’s worthy of a place on everyone’s dinner menu at holiday time.
Turducken is not that difficult to prepare. All you need is a very sharp fillet knife, a steady hand (or an exclusive butcher who knows what you’re looking for) and a short stretch of time to debone the birds. Once this conglomerate dish is cooked and you are slicing through the meat, I know the colours and flavours will impress you and your guests.
¼ cup of melted butter
Fresh oregano, rosemary and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh stuffing mixture (your family favorite recipe)
To debone the turkey, place it upside down and cut all the way down the centre of the spine; then, starting at the top, begin with your sharp knife separating the meat from the bone, shaving off the meat down the side of the turkey and beyond, to the centre of the bird’s chest below. This means cutting through the wing bone, and continuing through to the leg bone, then cutting all the way down along the rib cage, but being careful not to pierce the skin. Then flip the bird so its other side is near you and repeat the procedure.
You now need to remove the breast plate at the bottom. Cut very carefully along the plate and on both sides of the bird; then give the rib cage a gentle tug separating the meat from the breast plate. It should rip away. Be careful again not to split the skin; we need it in one piece.
You should now have a flat piece of turkey with just the legs and wings remaining. Remove these bones if you want; cut through the wing leaving just the small drum. Remove the drum bone leaving the meat. Do the same for the leg bone and thigh, leaving yourself with a completely deboned turkey.
Use the technique applied to deboning the turkey for all three birds. Once deboning is complete, it is time to start putting the turducken together. Lay the turkey flat out. Add some of your family favorite stuffing. Lay the chicken on top, adding more stuffing. Then, finally, add the duck. Once you have all three birds lying flat it is time to tie them together ready for the oven.
Using a large needle, thread string through the needle’s eye. Then, starting with the neck of the turkey, thread through the skin and meat and, across, through the meat and skin (leaving thread at both ends), and tie. Make sure you pierce through the meat or the skin will part once cooking has started. Do this three times along the body to keep it in shape.
Then with a separate length of thread, complete a simple butcher’s knot around the bird. Four loops around the waist should be good. Finally, draw the thread once from top to toe and tie. You now have a completed turducken.
Place the turducken in a roasting pan. Pour the melted butter over the bird, then season with salt and pepper. Cut the orange in two and set alongside the bird. Finally, lay fresh herbs over the bird and place the roasting pan in a preheated oven at 375° F. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes per pound.
Once the bird temperature has reached 160° F, remove and let it stand for 30 minutes. Carve, serve and savour your mastur-ducken, er, masterpiece.
The colors will blow you away and as you carve each slice the juice will ooze out.
To help you with the complicated deboning, the link below shows an award- winning butcher making a turducken. Good luck.
Ian Leatt is general manager of Pegasus Publications Inc.