Cajun Turducken

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This Turducken recipe is straight from Creole country. Turducken is the answer if you ever wondered what you get when you stick a chicken in a duck in a turkey?

If you’re going to try this turducken recipe, then plan ahead. Turducken takes a lot of work and time. You probably want more than one person helping to pull this off and allow two days from start to finish. With 10 plus hours in the oven, you’re not going to whip this turducken recipe up and serve it for lunch in one day.

It’s also a messy process, especially the deboning. It’s really great if you can mention this and then the guys in the family decide it would be a fun project — even better if you can convince the guys this would be a fun outdoor project.

First, you’re going to need three birds and stuffing. This is a layered dish — kind of like dressing up for going hunting.

Turducken Layers from Inside to Out (the classic version)

White Bread Stuffing
Chicken
Cornbread Stuffing
Duck
Sausage Stuffing
Turkey

* The different stuffings do add to the experience, but it’s fine to use one basic stuffing.

Ingredients

Instructions

Have the stuffing ready to go and in the refrigerator and ready to go when the birds are deboned and it's assembly time.

Deboning the Birds

[Editor's note: You can also ask your butcher to debone your birds.] All the birds are deboned basically the same way. It's a good idea to start with the chicken. You get better at this as you go along, and it's nice if the outside turkey looks pretty, because it's the one everyone will see. Also, you leave the wings on the turkey and can leave the bones in the turkey drumsticks if you wish. To get a mental picture, what you want to do is split each bird down the middle. The skin will remain intact with the meat attached and the bones will be stripped out. This, of course, is easier said than done. Be sure to cover your work area, because you will make a mess. Put the chicken (and then duck and then turkey) on a large cutting board with the breast side down. With a very sharp knife, cut down the middle starting at the neck and working back. Separate the meat from the rib cage. You'll need to break the shoulder blade bones to open up the bird. Then, go down the legs and remove the leg bones as well. With the exception of the turkey, just remove the wings. They don't have much meat anyway and can be used with the other bones to make stock. Take each bird out one at a time and then refrigerate again until ready for assembly. When you finish deboning each bird, add favorite seasonings. Just rub those on like you would rub ribs.

Putting the Turducken Together

Carefully lay out the deboned turkey like a sheepskin rug with the skin down. Put sausage stuffing in a layer over the meat. Then, lay the duck on top of the sausage stuffing covered turkey — skin side down again. Add the cornbread stuffing. Top that with the chicken — skin side down. Add white bread stuffing. Keep the layers loose. Don't mash. You need some air in the stuffing to allow for even and safe cooking.

Wrapping up the Birds

This step is much easier with two people. Together, roll the turducken up so that it looks like a turkey. The extra birds and stuffing take the place of the bones in giving it shape. It usually is longer and thinner looking than the traditional butterball turkey when done this way. You can either truss the bird by sewing with cotton string about one stitch per inch, or you can use string and tie around the bird(s) several places to hold it together.

Cooking Turducken

Lift this heavy, stuffed bird into a big baking dish. It's nice to have help for this step. Cover the bird with a tin foil tent, so the skin does not get too dark before the meat is ready. Bake turducken at 225 degrees F for 10 or more hours. It's done when the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F (the new USDA recommended temperature for turkey). Times vary quite a bit depending on a number of things. The size of the birds make a difference. Bigger birds take longer to cook. A tight wrap takes longer than a looser wrap. More stuffing means more cooking time. If you use an outdoor smoker, it will likely take longer than using the home oven. Start checking the temperature deep in the center at around 9 hours to get an idea of where you're standing. Keep checking until the temperature is up to 165 F. The safer temperature for cooking turducken is 325 degrees F. A ballpark cooking time runs in the 8 hour range. Folks I know go lower and slower for a more tender taste. Allow a few hours leeway (either way you go) to be on the safe side. If the turducken gets ready sooner than expected, just wrap it tight in tin foil to hold the heat. Don't leave it out a long time though. It can be reheated if needed. Let stand before carving. This gives the flavors time to mix and also allows the dish to "set" so that it carves in pretty slices. Do note that the USDA does not recommend stuffing birds period, and I won't even guess what they'd have to say about the turducken concept. Generally, it's suggested to cook meats faster (and at hotter temperatures), but I've not heard of anyone getting sick from a turducken. Feel free to check the USDA safety sheet for more information but also note that they change the safety rules from time to time like the internal temp on the turkey. It's lower this year than previous years.
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