Turducken

From Nola Cuisine

Despite what you have seen in stores since 30 seconds after Halloween ended (and early September in some stores), there is still a holiday between Halloween and Christmas called Thanksgiving, and it is my favorite kind because it is based entirely around eating. All of the parades are just leading up to eating, and football games are just something to kick the tryptophan into high gear with the end result being a much needed mid day nap.

Elliot from Cajun Grocer emailed me to ask if I would like to review their Turducken before the Thanksgiving rush, I had to think about it, as I don’t usually do any advertisement on this site, and then I said why not, as long as I can do an unbiased review. So he shipped it out, and I made plans to have a group of friends over for a Turducken feast.

The origins of Turducken are a bit foggy, as two claim to have invented it, Paul Prudhomme, and Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana. I don’t know who invented it, in fact, nesting birds together can be traced back to medieval times. All that I know is that a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a Turkey just has to make for good eating. It can also make for a labor intensive day of prep if you’re not familar with deboning poultry. If you want to try it at home, John Folse actually has some nice illustrations on the deboning process in his book The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine, and Paul Prudhomme has an insanely detailed recipe, along with extremely detailed instructions on the deboning process of each bird, along with three different stuffings in the wonderful book The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.

Cajun Grocer also has a recipe with instructions here.

If you are a regular reader of this site you know that this is a recipe I would love to cover in great detail on this site in the future.

The Turducken arrived promptly when Elliot said it would, nicely packaged and in great condition.

From Nola Cuisine
From Nola Cuisine

Cajun Grocer’s Turduckens are 15 pounds, I thawed mine for about 4 days in the refrigerator for a complete thaw.

From Nola Cuisine

The Turducken comes raw so it is basically yours to mess up or make great depending on how you cook it.

From Nola Cuisine

The only really negative reviews I’ve read about Cajun Grocer’s Turduckens are in regards to shipping, and it is usually because of poor planning. If planning on ordering a Turducken from Cajun Grocer or anywhere you should leave plenty of time for not just delivery, but also about 4-5 days of thaw time, preferably with a little breathing room in between the two. Would you trust your holiday meal to the efficiency of Fed Ex? I sure wouldn’t. Plan ahead.

How I cooked the Turducken

Preheated oven set to 325 F.

I placed the thawed Turducken in a large roasting pan and brushed it all over with heated Duck Fat (a.k.a. nectar of the gods). I then seasoned it liberally with my Creole Seasoning.

I roasted the Turducken for about 4 1/2 hours to an internal temperature of 155-160 degrees, allowing for some carry over cooking when it came out. I let the bird(s) rest for about a half an hour before slicing.

In the meantime I made a gravy from the pan juices, which I have to say was hands down, the absolute best gravy I have ever made, seen, smelled or tasted. Not because of anything I did, I just tightened it up with a roux. It was the culmination of flavor of all the birds, pork and stuffings woven together in perfect harmony. I could have drunk it from a glass, it was that good. (Actually, I did a shot of it when no one was looking…don’t tell anyone.)

Make sure that you slice the bird(s) at the table, there is nothing better than slicing into what appears to be a bone in Turkey and having the knife go clear through with ease, your guests will love it.

The Flavor

The flavor of Cajun Grocer’s Turducken was wonderful, nicely seasoned with good stuffings (a cornbread stuffing and a creole pork stuffing). The only downfall I felt was that they only use the duck breast and not the rest of the bird, because as I’ve said in the past, I’m a leg and thigh man, but that’s just my personal taste. Another thing that the Cajun Grocer does is skin the chicken and duck, which I do agree with as I don’t think that the fat would ever render out enough, leaving behind chewy undercooked globs of skin, especially in regards to the duck.

I served the Turducken with my Maque Choux:

From Nola Cuisine

and Praline Sweet Potatoes:

From Nola Cuisine

The main problem with making a Turducken from scratch is time. Ordering a Turducken online from Cajun Grocer will definately save you a lot of time, especially for a novice, and you will have a terrific product that will definitely impress your guests, as long as you cook it properly. They really do a nice job and they have a lot of great Louisiana sausages, Tasso, and other products as well.

But for me, the reason for this site, and cooking in general, is making things from scratch, for the sheer reason of knowing how to do it, and enjoying that labor in the kitchen, no matter how long it takes. In doing so you also have complete control over everything, making Turducken stock from all of the bones, making your own stuffings from the stocks, etc. But not everyone wants that kind of control. Very few actually, I believe want that kind of control. Thank God then for companies like Cajun Grocer that will do all of the leg work for you.

Related Thanksgiving Posts:

Turkey Bone Gumbo Recipe
Oyster Dressing Recipe
Praline Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Be sure and check out my ever growing Index of Creole & Cajun Recipes which has links to all of the recipes featured on this site!

20 thoughts on “Turducken”

  1. Beryl – Thanks so much, I hope you give it a try, well worth it.

    Stephen – It’s coming very soon. It’s like Candied Yams on PCP.

    Laurie – That is the most incredible thing EVER. I just spent 2 hours touring the streets of New Orleans, making me miss it even more than I already do. I found the now vacant lot where the original Chez Helene once was, pretty sad, but amazing because of the technology. WOW!

  2. Danno,

    I don’t know you, and I’ve never commented before. However, I’ve been a long, long time reader, and I have to tell you I LOVE your blog, your recipes, and everything.

    I literally check it everyday. I’m bummed when I don’t see a new post. And I cruise into your recipe pages when my longing becomes too severe.

    I’ve developed a very good (in my humble view) gumbo based upon your insight — thank you for that!

    Anyway, just want to say thanks and let you know that you have a SERIOUSLY DIEHARD fan here!

    tj

  3. Last Thanksgiving, we made a Turducken in Paris, and the Frenchies were quite confused. I guess a Turducken can be considered American Excess at its finest? Made a Turduckenail (add quail) this year. It’s a two-day process, but for all the meat you get it cooks incredibly fast! Also, all the juices stay in our birds….no drippings to make gravy but we don’t need it, as everything is lovely and juicy. I’d recommend layering smoked sausage cornbread stuffing with the traditional herb stuffing…is it November yet?

  4. Dr. Gerald LaNasa New Orleans surgeon and founding culinary judge for the 1971 Andouille Festival was known for his use of a scalpel in de-boning his three birds of choice along with pork and veal roasts. The results of Dr. LaNasa’s work can be found in the modern day Turducken. His efforts in preserving a Louisiana culinary tradition were noticed by the emerging local chefs in New Orleans. His Turducken Ballontine is now widely commercially available. During the 1960′s Dr. LaNasa was a regular guest chef at the Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans and other fine kitchens in New Orleans. Dr. LaNasa’s innovation and success with Ballontine, Three Bird Roast and Turducken took place in the 60′s and 70′s long before many of the popular Cajun/Creole chefs of today took the stage. Dr. LaNasa’s multi bird roast creations also include goose, pheasant, guinea fowl and quail.

  5. I purchased a turducken for my Son’s Birthday a couple of weeks ago from Hebert’s Specialty Meats. I have contacted them 4 or 5 times concerning what I received. Obviously, there is no way to tell until after the Turducken is cooked, but I received a turducken, which had the thinest slice of turkey on the outside and the inside was ground up duck. No one at the table could figure out if there was any ground chicken mixed with the ground duck. The Turducken also came with one leg and one wing. We were all very disappointed. I tried to find out if they sent me the wrong item, but no one has ever tried to contact me. I wanted to do a review on Hebert’s Specialty Meats because it just ruined our special dinner and everyone there was very unhappy. By the way the stuffing that was also supposed to be inside the turducken amounted to maybe a 1/2 cup at the most!, None of us could figure out what happened to the turkey meat as it appeared to be just a coating of thin sliced turkey on the outside. If there is another place that truly stuffs the deboned turkey with duck and chicken, let me know. Shame on you Hebert’s Specialty Meats!

  6. I purchased a Turducken from Hebert’s Specialty Meats. This product had a very thin layer of Turkey stuffed with not more than 4oz. of dressing and was stuffed with ground up duck meat. No ground up chicken could be recognized. It also came with one leg and one wing! Is this what a Turducken is supposed to be like? I contacted Hebert’s numerous times with no response from them. It was a Special Family gathering and we were all very disappointed.

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