Thanksgiving has unexpectedly appeared in my rear view mirror. And like most Thanksgivings of late, memories of ’09 suddenly come to mind. That year, I volunteered to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the entire family. And like the dumb ass that I am, I decided it was the perfect time to try something new!
Being a fan of all things Cajun, I had always wanted to try my hands at the infamous Turducken…..you know, a chicken, stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey…..coonass engineering at its finest. Now, I am sure for the true Cajun, cooking a Turducken is just another day on the bayou. But, for an over weight, drunken, city boy like myself, a “turphucken” (as I now call it) is a proverbial ass whip’n.
Looking back, it may of been the two bottles of wine I consumed during the prep or the fact that my food processor happened to be the frizt. Regardless of the reason, my first attempt at making a Turducken was far from pleasurable. Don’t get me wrong, the bird turned out great. Maybe one of the finest I have ever eat’n. But factor in the time and effort I spent over those two days; I would have paid $5k for the store bought variety. Hence forth, I swore I would never do one again……fast forward two years. Siete and I had just gotten hitched. I was definitely drinking the Kool Aid. Suddenly, I am I am back at it……but this time by damn, I was going to do it my way……
With much of the learning curve behind me, I decided to put my own “twist” on the bird. You see, a traditional turducken calls for a whole, de-boned chicken, wrapped inside a whole, de-boned duck, wrap inside a partially de-boned turkey. F that! De-boning whole chickens and ducks is for the birds. Cut up duck breast meat and store bought chicken thighs work just fine for my family. Not to mention, this schit is about to get shoved up Tom the Turkey’s ass. Who wants a whole bird shoved up their ass? Not me. Hell, Tom will probably be so thankful, he will give you a good hearty hand shake and ask you for a cigarette.
As much as I despise Paula Dean, I have found that her recipe for “turphucken” seems to be least time consuming and with a few “twists” of my own, seems to be the tastiest:
1 c kosher salt
1 c brown sugar
1 gallon water
15 to 17 lbs turkey, skin intact and boned except for drumstick
5 to 6 lbs duck, cut off bone
3 to 4 lbs chicken, cut off bone
1 lb Andouille sausage, chopped
1 lb shrimp, shelled and devained
Hell Bitch Cajun Seasoning
To make the brine: Mix salt and sugar with the water. Brine is ready when the mixture is completely dissolved. If the water is heated to quicken the process, make sure it is cooled to room temperature before placing meat in. Let the 3 birds sit in brine in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat roaster to 500 degrees F.
Lay turkey skin side down on a flat surface. Combine 1 lb of Andouille sausge and 2 cups of cornbread dressing. Dust turkey with Hell Bitch and add a layer of Andouille cornbread dressing. Lay duck pieces down on dressing. Combine 1 lb of shrimp and 2 cups of cornbread dressing. Dust duck with Hell Bitch and add layer of shrimp cornbread dressing. Lay chicken pieces down, dust with Hell Bitch add remaining cornbread stuffing.
Begin trussing up the turkey at the neck. Insert metal skewer about 1/2-inch from the edge and up through the other side. Run butcher’s twine between skin and skewer and tighten to draw both sides together. Continue down to legs. With every other skewer, draw together the duck and chicken skin. Tie together turkey legs to resemble standard turkey. Dust turkey skin liberally with Hell Bitch.
Roast turducken for 15 minutes. Then turn the roaster down to 225 degrees F to finish, approximately 3 hours. Remove turducken from roaster once the internal temperature in the chicken reaches 155 degrees F. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Cut across the middle of the breast completely through. Plate thin slices containing turkey, duck and chicken.
Cook’s Notes: If using a smoker to cook, smoke at 225 degrees F for 5 hours, rotating every 20 to 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F and external temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Try to keep the flare-ups from the fire to a minimum.
1 c self rising cornmeal
1/2 c self-rising flour
3/4 c buttermilk
2 T vegetable oil
7 slices white bread, dried in warm oven
1 sleeve saltine crackers
2 c chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
8 tablespoons butter
7 c chicken stock
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 t dried sage
1 T poultry seasoning
5 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the cornbread, combine all ingredients and pour into a greased shallow baking dish. Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
To make the dressing, crumble dried white bread slices, cornbread and crackers. Mix together and set aside. Saute chopped celery and onion in butter until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over corn bread mixture. Add stock, mix well and add salt, pepper, sage, and poultry seasoning. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Follow instructions above to stuff birds.
Twisted Epilogue: If you can’t beat them, then Turphuck’m!