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Gazette Premium Content THE BIRDS: Turducken!

By TERESA J. FARNEY Updated: November 6, 2007 at 12:00 am
For this year’s Thanksgiving centerpiece, forget about serving a brined turkey. That’s so yesterday. And leave the deep-fat fryer tucked in the the garage.
We’re over that idea, too. This year, advise your guests to have their camera phones ready. They’ll want to get a shot of you serving this one: a turducken. You won’t find it defined in many dictionaries, but the name hints at the components of this impressive dish: a deboned chicken inside a deboned duck inside a deboned turkey. No one is certain who dreamed up this unusual recipe, but most credit chef Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans. So we turned to two local chefs who spent time in Louisiana to learn firsthand how to make turduckens at home. Chef Victor Matthews, owner of the Black Bear Restaurant in Green Mountain Falls and the Paragon Culinary School, makes the version that most closely resembles the original. “I completely debone a chicken and duck,” said Matthews, who hails from New Orleans, where he learned to make the dish. “Then I partially debone a turkey. I leave part of the wings and legs. The chicken is put inside the duck and then the turkey is laid over that. With part of the wings and legs still attached it looks like a stuffed turkey.” He doesn’t use stuffing in his turducken, which Prudhomme did. “There are a couple of reasons I don’t use stuffing,” Matthews said. “First, because of the denseness with all the meats stuffed together, you want to be sure it reaches 165 (degrees) in the center. Stuffing would add more bulk and take longer to get done. And stuffing draws moisture out of the meat. You want to keep the meat moist.” Our other chef, The Blue Star executive chef James Davis, puts a twist on the typical turducken: He uses turkey, duck and chicken breasts rather than whole birds, seasons the meat with his own Cajun blackening seasoning and adds a layer of different stuffings on each meat. “My turducken is more of a roulade,” said Davis, who has worked as a chef in Louisiana. “I flatten the turkey breast and spread it with a sage and bread stuffing. Then the duck breast is pounded and laid on top of the sage stuffing. I cover it with a layer of cornbread stuffing. Finally, a flattened chicken breast is laid on and topped with my spicy andouille sausage stuffing.” Then he rolls up the layers. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “It’s a manly task to roll it all up and keep it together. Gotta work it. Once I get it rolled up, I use several layers of foil to hold it together.” Though it’s a departure from the norm, it’s found a following: Davis makes hundreds of his rouladelike turduckens for people to pick up and take home to cook for Thanksgiving. Below is Prudhomme’s complex but rewarding turducken recipe with dressing. You’ll need to sharpen your knives and plan a couple of days to make one. You can make the stuffings and debone the birds the day before; be diligent about keeping everything cold. The next day, you can assemble the deboned birds and pop them in the oven to roast. Cook at 325 degrees for eight to nine hours, or until it reaches 165 degrees in the center. To create Matthews’ version, check out a video of the process at www.gazette.com. The basics Here’s what you need to make Prudhomme’s stuffed turducken and how to schedule the steps. 1 (15- to 20-pound) turkey 1 (5- to 6-pound) domestic duckling 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken Andouille Sausage Dressing (recipe below) Cornbread Dressing (recipe below) Shrimp Dressing (recipe below) 1 (15-by-11-inch) ungreased baking pan, at least 2 1/2 inches deep 6 sheet pans 3 metal or bamboo skewers 1 pan, larger than the 15-by-11-inch pan, that the smaller pan will fit inside of, with room to spare. (NOTE: The 15-by-11-inch pan is ideal because the turducken fits snugly in the pan and keeps its shape while cooking.) Within a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving you will find fresh turkeys, ducks and chickens. However, if you want to make a turducken not so near the holidays, you will be able to find only frozen turkeys and ducks. You’ll need to plan time for these birds to defrost in the refrigerator. A frozen turkey will take at lease five days to defrost, and a frozen duck will take about three days to defrost in the fridge. Steps for making the turducken An important note about refrigeration: As you complete the steps, you will be refrigerating the fowl and dressings. It is critical that you keep the meats as cold as possible before preparing them, and to chill all the finished items as quickly as possible after preparing. The best way to do this is to spread the prepared items (or lay them flat, in the case of the deboned fowl) on a sheet pan and place them in the coldest part of your refrigerator. While the items are chilling, keep the fridge door closed as much as possible. Steps to be done one day ahead - Debone the birds - Bring the water to a simmer and prepare the poultry stock (to be used in the dressings; recipe at right) - Prepare Andouille Dressing - Prepare Cornbread Dressing - Prepare Shrimp Dressing Deboning For the time-challenged, check with grocery store butchers to see whether they’ll debone the birds for you (as Whole Foods Market does). Otherwise it’s helpful to keep the following in mind: - Your goal is to end up with one large piece of essentially boneless turkey meat; the finished product will contain only the tip of each leg bone and the first two joints of each wing. You will end up with one piece of boneless duck meat and one piece of boneless chicken meat. - Be careful not to pierce the skin except for the initial slits. (Cuts in the skin tend to enlarge during cooking and result in a less attractive, drier dish.) - Allow yourself plenty of time, especially if you’re a beginner. And even if you are experienced, approach deboning with a gentle, careful touch — the meat is not tough, and you want to end up with as much of it as possible. - Debone one side of each bird, either the left or right, before doing the other side. - Use a sharp knife and use mainly the tip; stay close to the bone at all times with the knife. To debone the turkey Place the turkey, breast down, on a flat surface. Make an incision the entire length of the spine through the skin and flesh. Starting from the neck end and using the tip of the knife, follow as close to the bone as you can cut, carefully teasing the skin and meat away from the frame. Toward the neck end, cut through the meat to expose the shoulder blade (feel for it first and cut through small amounts of meat at a time if you have trouble locating it); cut the meat away from around the bone and sever the bone at the joint so you can remove the blade. Disjoint the wing between the second and third joints; free the heavy drumstick of the wing and remove it, being careful to leave the skin intact. Continue teasing the meat away from the backbone, heading toward the thighbone and being careful to keep the “oyster” (pocket of meat on the back) attached to the skin. Cut through the ball-andsocket joint to release the thigh bone from the carcass; you should now be able to open up the bird more to better see what bones are left. Continue teasing the meat away from the carcass until you reach the center front of the breastbone. Then, very carefully separate the skin from the breastbone at the midline without piercing the skin (go slowly because the skin is very thin at this point). Repeat the same deboning procedure on the other side of the turkey, with the turkey still breast down. When both sides are finished, carefully remove the carcass. Then remove the thighbone and leg bone on each side as follows. Being careful not to break through the skin, use a small hammer to break the leg bone completely across, about two inches from the tip. Then manipulate both ends of the bone with your hands to be sure the break is complete. Leave the tip of the bone in, but remove the leg bone and thighbone as one unit. To do this, cut away the meat from around the thighbone first, using the knife tip; then, holding the thighbone up with one hand, use the other hand to carefully cut away the meat from around the leg-thigh joint. (Don’t cut through this joint, and don’t worry if it seems as if you’re leaving a lot of meat around the joint — it can’t be helped, and, besides, it will add flavor when you make the stock with the bones.) Then use the blade of the knife to scrape the meat away from the leg bone; remove the thigh-leg bone. With your hands or the knife, one by one remove as many pin bones from the leg meat as possible; then, if necessary, pull the tip of the leg bone to turn the meat to the inside (so the skin is on the outside and it looks like a turkey again). Lay the deboned turkey on a sheet pan and immediately place in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Reserve the bones and neck for making the stock. Reserve and refrigerate the giblets for making the Cornbread Dressing. To debone the duck Place the duck, breast down, on a flat surface and follow the same procedure you did to debone the turkey, except this time you will remove all the bones, instead of leaving part of the wing and leg bones. To debone each wing, cut off the first two joints of the wing (and save for stock), leaving the wing’s drumstick; cut the meat from around the drumstick and remove this bone. When you reach the thigh, follow the thigh-leg bone with the knife blade to release the bone as one unit, again being careful not to cut through the skin. Lay the deboned duck on a sheet pan and immediately place in the coldest part of the fridge. Reserve the bones and neck for making the stock. Reserve and refrigerate the giblets for making the Cornbread Dressing. To debone the chicken Use the same procedure to debone the chicken as you used to debone the duck. Lay the deboned chicken on a sheet pan and immediately place in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Reserve the bones and neck for making the stock. Reserve and refrigerate the giblets for making the Cornbread Dressing. Assembly Assembling the turducken with optional dressing. TURKEY: Spread the turkey, skin down, on a sheet pan, exposing as much meat as possible. Sprinkle the meat generously and evenly with about 4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, patting it in with your hands. (Be sure to turn the leg, thigh and wing meat to the outside so you can season it also). Stuff each leg cavity with about 1 1/2 cups of Cornbread Dressing, pressing it into the cavities with your fingers or the round handle of a wooden spoon. Pack each cavity well, but not too tightly. (If too tightly packed, it may cause the skin to burst open during cooking). Stuff each wing cavity with about 1 cup Cornbread Dressing, pressing it in as before. Fill the center of the breast cleavage with about 1 cup of Cornbread Dressing. Shape the dressing with your hands to fit the space and smooth it so it is level with the rest of the breast meat. Shape 2-3 cups of the dressing into an even layer over the remaining exposed meat, about 3/4-inch thick. (Do not put any dressing over the exposed skin flap at the neck). You should use about 8 to 9 cups dressing. Return the stuffed bird to the refrigerator. Place the remaining dressing in a baking pan. Cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. DUCK: Place the duck, skin down, on a sheet pan. Season the exposed duck meat generously and evenly with about 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, pressing it in with your hands. Then, place the Andouille Sausage Dressing on the duck meat, using the same technique as before, filling and leveling the cleavage area first, then making an even layer over the meat, about 1/2-inch thick. You should use about 4 cups dressing. Return the stuffed bird to the refrigerator. Place the remaining dressing in a baking pan. Cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. CHICKEN: Arrange the chicken, skin down, evenly on a sheet pan. Season the exposed chicken meat generously and evenly with about 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, pressing it in with your hands. Repeat the filling process with the Shrimp Dressing, using about 3 cups of dressing and making the layer about 1/2-inch thick. Return the stuffed bird to the refrigerator. Place the remaining dressing in a baking pan. Cover with plastic or foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. ASSEMBLY: Have the 3 skewers, 15-by-11-inch baking pan and the larger pan nearby for the next steps. Starting with the chicken: Roll one side of the chicken around the dressing toward the middle. Repeat with the other side, returning the bird to a chicken shape. If necessary, use a skewer to hold the flaps together. Place the rolled-up chicken on top of the stuffed duck, placing it in the center and rolling up the duck meat around the chicken. Use a skewer to close the flaps of the duck. When the duck is securely skewered, pull out the skewer from the chicken. Place the rolled up duck/chicken on top of the turkey, placing it in the center and rolling up the turkey meat around the duck/chicken in the same way as before. Fold the sides (and neck flap) of the turkey together and secure them by piercing them onto the tip of the skewer to close the bird. Invert the 15-by-11-inch baking pan and place it over the top of the turducken. Pull out the skewer and press down so the pan is firmly wedged on top of the bird. Enlist another person’s help to carefully turn over the turducken so it is sitting breastside up in the 15-by-11-inch pan. Cover the tips of the wings with aluminum foil. Roll up two pieces of aluminum foil and place them under the front and back openings of the turducken (this will help to keep the stuffing from falling out of the openings). Place the turducken pan in the larger pan with sides at least 2 1/2 inches deep, so that the larger pan will catch the overflow of drippings during cooking. Season the exposed side of the Turducken generously and evenly with about 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, patting it in gently. Refrigerate the turducken until ready to bake. ‘Turducken’ Day! Bake the turducken Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake turducken about 8 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees. Let the turducken rest about 30 minutes before slicing. Increase oven temperature to 375 and bake any remaining dressings. PURCHASING INFO Too busy to make your own turducken? Here are some places where you can order one. Whole Foods Market, 7635 N. Academy Blvd., will debone birds for assembling a turducken. They also make turduckens with or without stuffing for $5.99 per pound. Orders must be placed at least four days before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22. Call 531-9999 and ask for the meat department. The Blue Star: Order the roulade-style turducken from this restaurant at 1645 S. Tejon St. Sizes include: 8 pounds (feeds 10), $80; 6 pounds (feeds 4-5) $50; 2 pounds (feeds 2-3) $30. Call 632-1086 before Nov. 19 to place an order. Cajun Specialty Meats: Turduckens average 14-15 pounds (20-25 servings), $77. Call 1-866-4A-CAJUN (422-2586) or visit www.cajunspecialtymeats.com. Herbert’s Specialty Meats: Turduckens average 14-16 pounds (23 servings), $74.95. Call 1-866-298-8400 or see hebertsmeats.com. POULTRY STOCK Yield: About 1 gallon 2 gallons water Reserved carcasses from turkey, chicken and duck Procedure: 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. In stockpot or other large pot, bring 2 gallons water to boil. When water is boiling, reduce heat to a slow simmer. 3. Place reserved bones and necks in roasting pan. Place in oven and roast until bones are a rich golden brown, about 30 minutes. As soon as carcasses are browned, place in the pot. Simmer until stock has reduced by half and has a rich poultry flavor, about 2-3 hours. Strain and refrigerate until ready to use. Nutrition data not available. Source: www.chefpaul.com CORNBREAD Yield: About 9 cups crumbled 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup cornmeal 3/4 cup corn flour (available at health-food stores) 1 cup sugar 7 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning 2 cups milk 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 whole egg, beaten Procedure: 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a baking pan 2. In large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, corn flour, sugar, baking powder and Cajun seasoning; mix well, breaking up any lumps. 3. In separate bowl, combine milk, butter and egg and add to dry ingredients. Blend just until mixed and large lumps are dissolved. Do not overbeat. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and bake until golden brown, 40-55 minutes. Remove from pan, cool and break into crumbs (not too fine, and leave some coarser chunks for texture). Nutrition data per 3/4-cup serving: Calories 406.7 (31.7 percent from fat); fat 14.3 g (sat 8.2 g, mono 4.1 g, poly 1.1 g); protein 7.2 g; carbohydrates 64 g; fiber 3.22 g; cholesterol 60.2 mg; sodium 489.2 mg; calcium 302.2 mg. Source: www.chefpaul.com CORNBREAD DRESSING Yield: About 12 cups 2 eggs 1 cup evaporated milk 1 recipe Cornbread (see recipe above), or 9 cups roughly crumbled cornbread 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 3 bay leaves 3 cups finely chopped onion 2 cups finely chopped green bell pepper 1 3/4 cups finely chopped celery 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic 4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning 4 tablespoons hot pepper sauce 2 pounds duck or chicken giblets, ground Procedure: 1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 2. Process eggs and milk together in blender at medium speed until fully combined, about 20 seconds. Set aside. 3. Spread crumbled cornbread on sheet pan and bake until crumbs are dry and a touch of brown is showing on the larger pieces, about 30 minutes. 4. In 5-quart pot, melt 6 tablespoons butter with bay leaves. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions begin to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, celery, garlic, Cajun seasoning and pepper sauce. Cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until onions are beginning to brown and celery and bell peppers are faded in color, about 4 minutes. Add ground giblets and stir until giblets are fully cooked, but not browned, and the seasoning has a rich flavor, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and remove from heat. Stir well until butter is melted. Remove bay leaves. 5. Place baked crumbled cornbread in large mixing bowl. Fold in milk-egg mixture, then fold in vegetable-giblet mixture until evenly mixed. 6. Spread dressing on sheet pan as thinly as possible. Refrigerate sheet pan in coldest part of refrigerator until dressing is very cold. Nutrition data per serving: Calories 586 (41.8 percent from fat); fat 27.2 g (sat 14.8 g, mono 7.8 g, poly 2.3 g); protein 28.6 g; carbohydrates 58 g; fiber 4.01 g; cholesterol 411.5 mg; sodium 1,105 mg; calcium 320.1 mg. Source: www.chefpaul.com ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE DRESSING Yield: About 12 cups 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 2 1/2 pounds andouille sausage, ground 5 cups chopped onion 3 cups chopped celery 2 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper 1/4 cup minced garlic 7 tablespoons hot pepper sauce 5 tablespoons Cajun seasoning 3 cups very fine dry bread crumbs, unseasoned (preferably made from French bread) Procedure: 1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in 5-quart pot over high heat. When butter is melted, add ground andouille. Cook, stirring and scraping bottom frequently to prevent sticking, until andouille is beginning to brown and its oil is beginning to render, about 6 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until faded and translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add celery, bell peppers and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until celery and bell peppers are faded in color, about 4 minutes. Add pepper sauce and Cajun seasoning. Stir and scrape until mixed in well and brown crust on bottom of pot is dissolved. 2. Remove pot from heat and add remaining butter. Stir until butter is melted. Fold in half the bread crumbs, using a bottom-to-top folding motion. When mixed in well, fold in remaining bread crumbs. Continue to fold until bread crumbs are evenly moistened but still somewhat dry and caky. 3. Spread on sheet pan as thinly as possible. Refrigerate sheet pan in coldest part of refrigerator until dressing is very cold. Nutrition data per serving: Calories 642.5 (61.6 percent from fat); fat 44 g (sat 17.7 g, mono 19.7 g, poly 4.1 g); protein 28 g; carbohydrates 33.2 g; fiber 2.92 g; cholesterol 99.9 mg; sodium 2,428 mg; calcium 81.3 mg. Source: www.chefpaul.com SHRIMP DRESSING Yield: About 11 cups 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 4 bay leaves 4 cups each chopped onion and chopped celery 3 cups chopped green bell pepper 1 tablespoon minced garlic 7 tablespoons Cajun seasoning 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and chopped 3 cups very fine dry bread crumbs, unseasoned (preferably made from French bread), divided 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock Procedure: 1. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in 5-quart pot with bay leaves over high heat. When butter is melted, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add celery, bell pepper, garlic and Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring frequently, until celery and bell peppers are faded in color, about 4 minutes. Add shrimp and stir in well. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir until butter is melted. Add half the bread crumbs. Cook, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs are fully moistened and blended in, about 2 minutes. Add remaining bread crumbs and continue to stir until all bread crumbs are mixed in, about 2 minutes. 2. Remove from heat, remove bay leaves and stir in stock. The dressing should be bound and thick but not wet. Spread dressing on sheet pan as thinly as possible. Refrigerate sheet pan in coldest part of refrigerator until dressing is very cold. Nutrition data per serving, made with chicken stock: Calories 312.9 (34.9 percent from fat); fat 12.1 g (sat 6.2 g, mono 3.4 g, poly 1.5 g); protein 18.2 g; carbohydrates 33.3 g; fiber 3.2 g; cholesterol 118.6 mg; sodium 1,183 mg; calcium 111.4 mg. Source: www.chefpaul.com
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