Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Turducken. Yes, we actually made one. And it was good.

I was thinking about Christmas traditions today.  My husband and I have a date tomorrow night to plan the Christmas menu.  Anyhow, I posted this on Facebook last year.  The majority of comments suggested that we may, in fact, be somewhat mad.  This is the kind of Christmas spirit I'm after - the kind that leads to mad food experiments, photos and a high-spirited dinner party with good friends.  This one will be hard to top though...

The photos have proved a bit of a challenge - I can't resize them, and it feels like way to much work to go and add each photo again.   I promise not to make a habit of it!

 (Originally posted on Facebook 2 January 2011).

Every now and then my husband and I come up with some kind of mad cooking adventure.  At uni, we used to cook elaborate Chinese meals in our poky kitchen for our chums still in hostels. There were the pavlova wars, finally won by me and the electric mixer (over DH's chopsticks). The annual duck adventures (blow drying with a hairdryer to get crispy skin) were great - we couldn't get duck in Dunedin and so memorably I once bought one back from a work trip in my carry on luggage. Add in a long running Iron Chef addiction, and way too much Food TV and we do mad cooking things occasionally.  We are not in any way showing off great cooking skills or anything, the rest of the time our cooking is pretty average.

An annual tradition is buying a discounted turkey after Christmas, brining it and cooking up a bit of a feast.  This year when I got the turkey (half off) DH rather madly suggested turduken.

Turducken rather intrigues us for a couple of reasons.  One, it is stupid crazy in terms of meat.  Two, there is a technical challenge in deboning and butterflying the three birds that make up turducken.  Three birds.  Our turkey will be stuffed with a duck, which in turn will be stuffed by a chicken.  Each bird will have a layer of stuffing (each different).  Cooking estimates seem to settle around the eight hour mark, with one hour of resting time.

So today, when I went to hire a carpet cleaner from Woolworths I sought out a duck and a chicken.  There will be a traditional bread stuffing (with cranberries and pinenuts - stolen idea from my Mum), a couscous stuffing and finally a sausage and cranberry stuffing.  The cranberries are currently soaking in a cinnamon/ five spice essence I made.  It is now 10.54pm the night before, we are sitting in a house reeking of carpet cleaner and DH is finishing up deboning of his first chicken.  I have deferred on the deboning to him, as his classical medical school training included dissection room time (with actual dissection).  I spent an hour in the dissection room once, to help acquaint myself with it prior to doing a bioethics tutorial on death.  It took a number of showers and the consumption of corrosive soft drinks to get the taste of that distinctive smell out of my mouth.

Will the bird be in the oven by 10am?  Lets see.


11.46pm update.  The chicken is deboned - DH was masterful.  The sausage, fennel and cranberry stuffing is made.  The bones are in the crockpot to make stock.  We are still cleaning the carpet as well!
The carcass!
Beautifully jointed and deboned


10.38am update.  Well the turkey and duck were not so defrosted when DH got them out this morning so there has been a lot of rapid defrosting.  After some more early morning carpet cleaning (why do we always make these things more stressful than they need to be) and returning of the carpet cleaner it was stuffing time.

As I type the chicken is stuffed with the sausage meat stuffing and the duck surrounds the chicken tightly, with a nice couscous barrier.  DH is frantically deboning the turkey and we have stock from all these bones in the crock pot, and in a large stockpot on the stove.  We are also rendering the duck fat.  There are a surprising number of dishes, and my love for the dishwasher continues.
The turkey gets it!


3.10 update.

Well the turducken has been in the oven since 11.15.  We just took it out and basted it - it smells amazing.  Four more hours of cooking to go and we have decided that we cannot be bothered cooking anything to go with it!  We have nearly four litres of stock and a cup of duck fat.  Feeling slightly over it.   We also realised that we were so busy concentrating on cleaning the carpet and preparing the jolly thing that we hadn't invited anyone!  DH remedied this while I napped.  Off to buy baby presents for a friend!


11pm update.

I checked the turducken at 6.30pm with a meat thermometer and it was done.  The most fragrant smelling juices had leached out during cooking, which meant that the turducken was half poached/ half cooked.  We rested it for an hour and half as we had planned to eat at 8pm.

At this time we also had the plumber make an emergency trip over as there was a leak from the beloved dishwasher.  He promptly fixed it, which was very appreciated.

The bird was delicious.   I can't describe it better than that.  We were all so excited when DH carved the beast and we were rewarded with beautiful layers of meat.  We feasted.  We all claimed fullness, but then had delicious rhubarb fool and a box of dark chocolates for dessert.  We were all then genuinely full, and sat around to enjoy great conversation.

Twenty four hours very well spent.
The skeleton coming out of the turkey
The chicken and duck all stuffed and ready for insertion!
Stitching up the stuffed turkey. DH's experience with surgical stitches came in handy.
All trussed and ready to roast.
The complete turducken
Six layers

There were six of us eating on the night, and we sent one serve home for leftovers.  My husband and I then had leftovers the next day, and the next day.  We admit defeat and have thrown out the last of the leftovers.  There was probably enough for at least four- five more servings!


  1. Wow! you and your husband are awesome! That is something I'm pretty sure I will never attempt to make, well done! I really need to hire the carpet cleaner, I've never used the ones from woolworths before!

  2. I look back on this night and still think that we were taken with some kind of madness! We try and use the carpet cleaner annually. What will shock you is just how much black stuff comes out of your carpet!

  3. It was sooo good!! I saw turkeys for sale today and wondered if there was going to be a repeat this year...

  4. I made this (and a couple of variations) back in the days when I had to cope with the dreaded Teenaged Boy Appetite.
    Said Teenaged Boy (now a steady father-of-two) happened to walk into the kitchen just as the Turducken was ready to go in the oven:

    "Oh great, are we having Murdered Baby for Christmas Dinner?"

    No prizes for guessing what it has been called ever since.

    Gae, in Callala Bay

  5. Oh my goodness I laughed so hard reading this! The raw, assembled turducken does look a bit like a crime victim!