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Turducken

TimeTotal time: 2 to 4 hours, plus 6 to 7 hours roasting time (timing will vary depending on how quickly the birds are boned)
YieldsServes 25 to 30
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This is a glorious monster of a roast, a guaranteed showstopper at any holiday dinner. Slice into it and there’s layer after layer of meats and stuffings.

I like to make three different stuffings, one type for each layer of poultry, but you can make just one or two if you prefer.

Bone the poultry the day before you plan to cook.

From the story: Christmas turducken: A whole lot of a good thing

1

Bone the chicken: Slice along the back through the skin to expose the bone, peeling flesh from the main cavity using your fingers or quick, short cuts from a knife. Trim the wings after the first joint (discard the wing tip and center joint, or save for another use), carefully stripping the meat away from wings and legs. (Popping the joints out of the socket makes it easier to strip the meat from the bones and cartilage.) Discard the bones, or save to make stock or gravy.

2

Stuff the chicken with the dirty rice: With the chicken skin-side down, spoon the rice over the meat, then wrap the chicken around it, forming a roll. Wrap the chicken tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer until the chicken just starts to firm up but is not yet frozen. (This will help it hold its shape when placed in the duck.)

3

Bone the duck in same manner. Spread the corn-bread stuffing along the inside of the duck (to a thickness of about one-half inch), within an inch of the edge so the stuffing does not spill out when duck is wrapped. Place the chicken inside of the duck and wrap the duck around the chicken to form a larger roll. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer just until the duck begins to harden but is not yet frozen.

4

Bone the turkey in same manner as the chicken and duck, but leaving the wings and drumstick bones intact (so the turducken resembles a turkey). Bone and stuff the turkey over a large cutting board or baking sheet. (This will make it easier to flip the turducken into the roasting pan after it is stitched.) Peel the breast meat away from the skin and line the skin with strips of bacon. Rearrange the breast meat over the bacon. Stuff the turkey, filling the thighs and coating the inside of the turkey with the stuffing (to a thickness of approximately one-half inch), leaving about 2 inches around the edge of the turkey so the stuffing does not spill out as the turducken is stitched. Center the stuffed duck inside the turkey.

5

Stitch the turkey using butcher’s twine and a large needle, making sure to pierce the turkey skin 1 to 1 1/2 inches away from the edge (this will help keep the holes from ripping as the twine is tightened). Start from one end of the bird and thread a few holes at a time, slowly tightening the twine (as with a corset) as the turducken is threaded.

6

When the entire back of the bird is stitched closed, center a roasting rack over the bird, then place the roasting pan upside-down over the bird. Flip the turducken over, sandwiching it between the cutting board and roasting pan, as it will be fragile. (You may need help as this could be awkward and the turducken will be heavy.) The turducken can be made to this point up to a day in advance; cover and refrigerate before roasting.

7

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the maple syrup. Brush the maple butter over the turducken, then place it in the oven.

8

Roast the turducken for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue to roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the bird reaches 165 degrees (all of the turducken, including the stuffings, must reach this temperature), rotating the turducken every so often for even coloring. Depending on the size of the turducken, the total roasting time will be about 6 to 7 hours.

9

Remove the turducken and let rest an hour before serving. To serve, slice the turducken as you would a large loaf of bread or meatloaf, removing the wings and drumsticks as needed.

Dirty rice

1

In a small bowl, combine the ground red pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika, mustard, cumin, thyme and oregano to form a seasoning mix. Set aside.

2

In a large, heavy-bottom skillet heated over high heat, combine the vegetable oil, chicken gizzards, ground pork and bay leaves. Cook until the meat is thoroughly browned, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes.

3

Stir in the seasoning mix, then add the onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic; stir thoroughly, scraping pan bottom well. Add the butter and stir until melted. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 8 minutes to allow the flavors to marry, stirring constantly and scraping pan bottom well.

4

Add the broth and stir until any mixture sticking to the pan bottom comes loose; cook about 8 minutes over high heat, stirring once. Then stir in the chicken livers and cook about 2 minutes.

5

Add the rice and stir thoroughly; cover pan, turn heat to very low and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered until the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. (The rice is finished this way so as not to overcook the livers and to preserve their delicate flavor.)

6

Remove bay leaves and serve immediately, or place in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled before stuffing.

Corn bread dressing

1

In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon, discarding or reserving the bacon fat for another use. Set the bacon aside in a paper-towel-lined bowl.

2

In a small bowl, combine the salt, white pepper, ground red pepper, black pepper, oregano, onion powder and thyme to form a seasoning mix. Set aside.

3

In a large skillet heated over medium-high heat, melt the butter and stir in the onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are bright and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking until the vegetables are barely wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon, broth and Tabasco and cook for 5 minutes to marry the flavors, stirring frequently.

4

Remove from heat and stir in the corn bread, milk and eggs, stirring well. Remove the dressing to a baking dish, cover and refrigerate until chilled before stuffing. (To bake the dressing on its own, increase the evaporated milk to 1 2/3 cups [1 13-ounce can] and spoon the dressing into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish; bake at 350 degrees until browned on top, about 35 to 40 minutes.)

Andouille smoked sausage dressing

1

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Stir in 2 cups onions and 1 cup each celery and bell peppers. Saute the vegetables until caramelized, stirring frequently, about 10 to 12 minutes.

2

Stir in the andouille and cook until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the remaining 2 cups onions, 1 cup celery and 1 cup bell peppers, along with the butter, garlic and Tabasco. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to marry the flavors.

3

Stir in the stock and bring to a simmer; continue cooking until the oil rises to the top (until the water evaporates), about 10 minutes. Stir in the bread crumbs and remove from heat.

4

Place the dressing in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate until chilled before stuffing. (To bake the dressing on its own, place it in an ungreased 8-inch-square baking dish; bake uncovered in a 425-degree oven until browned on top, about 45 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom very well every 15 minutes.)

This recipe requires a large roasting pan with a rack. Make sure the turkey does not come with a pop-up thermometer (the thermometer would need to be removed, and this can cause the skin to tear as the turducken cooks).