“Turducken, that’s right,” I said to Joan, one of our editors. “What’s a turducken?” she asked, looking somewhat befuddled. “Well, it’s a turkey, stuffed with a chicken that, in turn, is stuffed with a duck,” I replied. She was still in a little disbelief.
In the U.K., a turducken is a type of ballotine called a “three-bird roast” or “royal roast.” (A ballotine is traditionally a boned thigh part of the chicken, duck, or other poultry stuffed with forcemeat and other ingredients.)
Personally, having had my taste of this scrumptious meal before, it gives me great delight to invite you to try what I think should be on everyone’s table during a seasonal time.
Turducken is not that difficult to prepare. All you really need is a very sharp fillet knife and a steady hand (or an exclusive butcher who knows what you are looking for), and you need some time to debone the birds. I know once you have this culinary delight cooked and are slicing through the meat, the colours and flavours will amaze you and impress your guests.
¼ cup of melted butter
Fresh oregano, rosemary and thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh stuffing mixture
To help you with the complicated deboning, I recommend Googling the video from award-winning butcher Armande Ferrante for a visual reference – but I’ll try my best to explain.
To debone the turkey, place it upside down and cut along the base of the rib cage. Cut through the wing bone, but be careful not to pierce the skin. Once you have done this, continue through to the leg bone and do the very same thing. Then, cut all the way down through the rib cage but be careful not to remove. Flip the bird to the other side and do exactly the same.
You now need to remove the breast plate: cut very carefully along the plate and on both sides, then give the meat a gentle tug and 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, and cut through the wing leaving just the small drum. Remove the drum bone, leaving the meat. Complete the same for the main drum and shoulder leaving you with a completely deboned turkey.
Use the same technique applied to deboning the turkey for all three birds. Once deboning is complete, it is time to start putting the turducken together.
Putting it together
Lay the turkey out flat. Add some of your stuffing. Lay the chicken on top, adding more stuffing until you finally add the duck. Once you have all three birds lying flat, it is time to tie them together, preparing them for the oven.
Using a large needle, thread string through the eye, then, starting with the neck of the bird, thread through 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, complete a simple butcher’s knot around the bird. Four loops around the waist should be good. Finally, draw the thread once from tip to toe and tie. You now have a completed turducken.
Place the turducken inside the cooking tray. 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 it all in a preheated oven at 375 F. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes per pound. Once the bird has reached 160 F, remove and let it stand for thirty minutes. Carve and marvel at your work of art.
The colours will blow you away, and as you carve each slice, pure meaty goodness will ooze out. Enjoy a one- to three-hour nap post-turducken.
Ian Leatt, a former chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, is general manager at Pegasus Publications Inc.