Monday, November 12, 2012
The Turducken Has Landed!
Most people, I think - when not receiving emails from friends, family, or colleagues - find their inboxes filled with pictures of cute animals, prayer requests, and promises of grand fortunes if they'll only forward the chain mail to 12 of the most fabulous women they know. And, of course, there's obscene spam. All of that finds its way to me, all day, every day.
But one afternoon, I also received this:
"As families across the United States prepare for the up-coming holiday feasts, Echelon Foods’ Original Turducken is giving home cooks the ability to present gourmet fare without the chaotic preparation normally associated with sophisticated food offerings ....
The Original Turducken has been quickly gaining converts amongst bloggers and journalists across North America. We would love for you to consider featuring the Original Turducken on Food Floozie, so please let us know if you are interested in speaking further."
Well, a girl doesn't see that every day! So, of course I leapt at the opportunity.
After a few more emails back and forth, and waiting a couple of days, I found a very large box of perishable goods at my door.
The Turducken had landed!
While I'd heard of these creative concoctions, I'd never prepared a Turducken before - either deboning and stuffing my own or even just roasting a ready-made one. But I was surprised to find that many people I know had no idea what a Turducken was. So, here's the scoop: a Turducken is a chicken stuffed into a duck, which is then stuffed into a turkey. Similar dishes have been served for hundreds of years, particularly during Medieval times when elaborate feasts were all the rage among the nobility.
All of my family and friends were intrigued, fascinated by the prospect of seeing and - even better - tasting something this unique.
I let the bird (yeah, there are actually three of 'em; but it looks like one) defrost for the requisite 5 days in the refrigerator. And then, on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning when I had the time to devote to the slow cooking required for the density of the meat, I roasted a Turducken for the very first time.
The instructions indicated that I should cook it at 220F for 7+ hours ... that seemed very low and slow, even if acknowledging that the company knows what it's doing and gave an appropriate recipe. But I thought I'd raise the temperature to 350F, crisping up the skin a bit more. I could always turn the temperature down. I could always cover the bird with foil if it was browning too quickly. But you know me - I always have to tinker with things, tweaking protocols or techniques or ingredients or something. I cooked my Turducken for 4.5 hours, and it turned out perfectly.
I have to say that this was much easier to prepare than a regular ol' stuffed turkey. Although it's not a lot of bother to mix together bread and broth and then shove it all inside a bird, the fact that my Turducken came pre-stuffed and prepped to unwrap and place directly into a baking dish - that is a tremendous boon on a busy day like Thanksgiving. The bird is ready to cook, there are fewer dishes to wash ... it's all good!
And oh, when is the "scratch 'n' sniff" app coming for bloggers??? The house smelled amazing as the Turducken roasted! Not quite turkey, not quite chicken, but familiar and comforting and enticing. Those who were here to keep me company for the adventure kept remarking how fabulous the aroma was when they walked in, kept asking me when - oh, when? - would it be time to eat. It was seductive.
Once the Turducken is cooked, you have to be careful to let it rest a bit, letting the juices settle to keep the meat from drying out just as you do with other poultry. And because it's several delicacies in one rather than a solid piece, carving and slicing need to be done carefully in order to retain the integrity of the servings.
Everyone who joined me in this adventure was thrilled to finally enjoy the feast. Comments like "amazing" and "rich" and "delicious" poured forth. The meat was tender, succulent. Folks wanted leftovers; and because the Turducken is solid meat - rather than meat and cavity and stuffing, like a turkey - there is plenty of it to send home with loved ones who want to indulge some more. And you'll still be left with an abundance for making sandwiches, casseroles, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
I was so giddy to have this adventure with the Turducken, to have a new culinary experience, and to share the gift with family and friends. If you'd like to liven up your Thanksgiving (or other holiday) meals with something decadent, look no further than the Turducken!
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