Turducken Recipe

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This is actually an old post which was written early last year, when I’ve just started. I’ve decided to rewrite this because the old one wasn’t very well done. It was also a 3 part series, but I’m going to merge it into one mega post.

So a turducken is basically a turkey stuffed with a duck, that is stuffed with a chicken. It’s an interesting change to the same old lets-have-turkey-every-year tradition, so you might wanna try this out the next time you think about a roast this year.

A word of warning. This meal requires some skill and a lot of preparation, I would place the difficulty as hard damn hard. But if you are up for it, keep your fingers cross and enjoy the ride.

So by now you would have realized that you’ll need a turkey, duck and chicken.

To stuff the birds into one another you’ll need to debone them, this is the hardest part in my opinion. BUT! If you want to make a turducken but do not want to go about deboning, you could probably pay your butcher to do it.

I have attached a video to teach people who are interested to do their own deboning. Hope this helps!

Credits go to Chef Jacques Pepin

You can ignore the the ballotine/galantine part, the important thing is his method of deboning which is extremely efficient and easier to do than most other methods.

You want to do this for all the birds , except that for the turkey, you will leave the wings and legs intact. You know, so that it still looks like a turkey after we are done.

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After you de-boned the poultry, its time to brine them. Why do we do this ? To ensure that you get a nice moist flavorful roast. As you may have already experienced, many times when you eat a poorly roasted turkey, it is dry and stringy. You can avoid this by soaking the meat in brine before cooking.

This was what I believed to be true at that point of writing, truth is that for the most recent turducken I’ve made, I did not brine it. While it was sort of dry, it was not significantly far of from the brined turducken I’ve made before that, but that was a year ago so I can’t say that my memory was fresh.  Believe what you will, but I until I can make and eat 2 turkeys brined and unbrined side by side, I cannot say that I fully believe in either method yet. If you think brining is non-essential, then skip the brining.

I used a brine recipe I found ages ago, and been using it for most of the turkeys I’ve done in the recent years.

For the spice components in the brine, I chose to do a sachet d’epices of sorts. So basically I took a cheese cloth, and cut off a quarter of it, and lay all the spices in the middle, and tied it up like a little bag. The reason I use this is due to the fact that I hate picking out spices from my food. And it’s very tedious, not to mention annoying to pick these things off the brined poultry before roasting. Of course if you are not bothered by this you can just let the spices float around in your brine and on  the meat.

The following are what spices I used in the sachet, but you are not limited to use only these, feel free to use whatever you feel will improve the aroma of the roast:
- Cinnamon
- Black Peppercorns
- All-spice Berries
- White Mustard Seeds
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Bay Leaves
- Cloves (Use sparingly as they are powerful)
- Star Anise (Same as above)
Next is the actual brine solution:
You will need a large tub to soak the 3 birds in and refrigerator space for the tub as well.
Ingredients:

-Salt – 125g
-Water – 6L
-Honey – 1/2 cup
-Maple Syrup – 1/2 cup
-Onions – 2 nos (Cut them into quarters)
-Orange – 1 nos (Squeeze the juice into the tub before tossing them in)
-Ginger – Roughly 6 thick slices

Once you filled it up with water, you can throw in the sachet d’epices and stir it till the salt/honey/maple syrup dissolves.

Put in the poultry and cover with cling film, let soak overnight in the refrigerator.

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The next day (the day you are going to serve your turducken) take out the poultry from the tub and dry them well. Unless you did not brine the poultry, in which you can start the entire process on the day itself. Just make sure you start early, you want to give yourself plenty of time to work with.
Let me break down the hours for you:
- Fabrication of poultry (de-boning): moderately skilled, 2 hours
- Brining: 12 hours (skip if not brining)
- Putting everything together: 1 hour (assuming you’ve made your stuffing beforehand)
- Roasting in the oven: 5-6hours
- Resting the meat: 30-45mins
- Service
It’s really a labour of love. It demands patience and hard work, the people you make it for must really mean something to be able to make anyone willing to make this.

Lay out the turkey down first, season the meat portions with salt and pepper.

Ignore the the white pin on the left side of the flesh, it’s the pop-up indicator that comes with the turkey. I forgot to remove it.
 

Layer bacon on top of the turkey, when it cooks in the oven, the juices are going to flow out and impart flavor to everything else inside.

Add in a layer of stuffing over the bacon. This step is optional, a matter of personal preference, if you are inexperienced, it’s likely that the added bulk of the stuffing may make it difficult to put together the turducken. So going without may be a good idea for some people, but if you have a fondness for stuffing (it does taste wonderful after absorbing all the goodness from the turducken), then go on full steam ahead.

After you are done, lay on the duck on top of the stuffing, and repeat the process of seasoning -bacon-ing – and stuffing. Repeat that for the chicken too.
Now it’s time for the task of putting everything into one single bird.

With some bamboo skewers, carefully skewer together the chicken layer. Be careful not to tear the skin or flesh, but if you do, fret not it’s not going to trash the entire product, but don’t let the tears happen too much or you might have problems keeping it together.

Tip: Skewer or sew through the flesh instead of only the skin, it’s more stable and secure than just skin which will possibly tear.
Repeat for the duck layer.
For the turkey layer, get ready you butcher’s twine and butcher’s needle, you should be able to get these from a supermarket, or a cooking tool store that sells kitchen knifes and other cheffy items. Sew the two layers together tightly, to make sure the turkey doesn’t fall apart while cooking.
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You can roughly see that it’s been sewn with butcher’s twine in the photograph. Don’t worry if it’s ugly, it will be removed anyway.

Carefully transfer the turducken onto a deep tray and put it into a preheated oven at 180C, for 5-6 hours, or until the internal temperatures exceed 75C, stick your meat thermometer into the center of the entire thing to take the measurement. Don’t forget to baste the turkey with the juices that come out during cooking, do this every half hour or so.

If you find that the skin is browning too much midway, get some aluminium foil and create a loose tent over it.

So when the turducken is done cooking, give it ample time to rest. Don’t worry, it will still be warm when it’s time to cut into it. And remember to deglaze the cooking tray to make a meat sauce to go with the turkey, I threw in some garlic to roast with the turkey, that gave a prominent garlic aroma to the sauce and also allowed for a chunky sauce with sweet roasted garlic to accompany the meat. This dish on it’s own, is a feast in every right, with some extra mash or stuffing, you would wind up with very very full guests!

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2 Comments

  1. The tour guide that I had when I was in Napa Valley was just talking about a turducken! That was my first time that I was hearing about it! I love Jacques Pepin – I bought his videos in DVD!

    Reply
  2. For some reason, I find the word “Turducken” really eerie. Gives me the shudders every time.

    Reply

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