Turducken (a Chicken in a Duck in a Turkey)
Right out of the gate, I'll tell you that I've never made one of these, nor
would I. Just the thought grosses me out. However, I know there are people who
think they're the best invention since sliced bread.
Turducken is a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned
duck, further stuffed into a deboned turkey. Outside of the United States and
Canada, it is known as a three bird roast. Gooducken is a traditional English
variant replacing turkey with goose.
Credit for the creation of the turducken is uncertain, though it is generally
agreed to have been popularized by Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. The most common
claimant is Hebert's Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, whose owners Junior
and Sammy Hebert say they created it in 1985 when a local man brought his own
birds to their shop and asked the brothers to create the medley.
The Turducken will need to bake for 12 or 13 hours at 190 degrees F, so begin
preparation well in advance.
- 1 (20 to 25 pound) whole turkey
- 1 (4 to 5 pound) whole duckling
- 1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken
- Corn bread dressing
- Sausage stuffing
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 to 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pepper
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 cups onions, diced
- 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
- 2 pounds spicy Italian sausage
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups toasted bread crumbs
- Place the cleaned turkey, breast side down, on a flat surface. Cut through
the skin along the length of the spine. Using the tip of a knife and starting
from neck end, gently separate meat from rib cage on one side. Toward neck end,
cut through meat to expose shoulder blade; cut meat away from and around the
bone, severing bone at the joint to remove shoulder blade. Disjoint wing between
second and third joints. Leave the wing bones and keep the wing attached to
- Continue separating meat from frame, heading toward the thighbone and being
careful to keep the "oyster" (pocket of meat on back) attached to
skin, rather than leaving with bone. Cut through ball-and-socket joint to release
thighbone from carcass (bird will be open on one side, exposing bones left to
deal with). Keep the leg attached to the meat.
- Repeat boning procedure on the other side of the bird. Carefully remove
carcass and reserve for making stock. You should end up with a flat boneless
(except for wings and legs) turkey with the skin intact in one large piece.
Cover the boned turkey and set aside (or chill).
- Repeat the process on the duckling and chicken, but cut off the first two
joints of wings, and debone both stumps of wings and leg drumsticks (cut through
flesh at thinnest point and trim around these bones with a knife until they
can be removed). Trim excess skin and fat from necks of birds. If it is your
first time deboning a fowl, it is advisable to practice first on the chicken
rather than the turkey. Both the chicken and duck will be stuffed inside the
turkey and need not be kept "perfectly" intact. Make stock from the
- Prepare Seasoning Mix and set aside.
- Prepare Sausage Stuffing. Melt butter in large skillet over high heat. Add
onions and celery. Saute until onions are dark brown but not burned, about 10
to 12 minutes. Add sausage to the skillet and cook about 5 minutes or until
the meat is browned, stirring frequently. Add paprika and minced garlic and
cook about 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken
stock and bring to simmer. Continue cooking until water evaporates and oil rises
to top, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in toasted bread crumbs and mix well. Add more bread crumbs if mixture
is too moist.
- Prepare a similar amount of another stuffing such as corn bread stuffing.
- At least 13 to 14 hours before dinner, assemble the Turducken.
- Spread the turkey, skin down, on flat surface, exposing as much meat as
possible. Rub 3 tablespoons of seasoning mix evenly on meat. Spread sausage
stuffing over the turkey in an even layer approximately 3/4 inch thick.
- Place duck, skin down, on top of stuffing. Season exposed duck meat with
about 1 tablespoon of seasoning mix. Spread corn bread stuffing in an even layer
(about 1/2 inch thick) over the duck.
- Arrange the chicken, skin down, evenly on top of corn bread stuffing. Season
chicken meat with seasoning mix. Spread remainder of sausage and/or corn bread
stuffing on top of chicken.
- With another person's help, carefully lift the sides of the layered
birds, folding the sides of the turkey together. Have a helper hold the bird
while sewing the opening down the back of the turkey together using cotton thread.
The bird may not close perfectly, and a strip of cheese cloth can be used to
help close the "crack" in the back of the turkey so stuffing will
not leak out when the bird is turned over.
- Since the Turducken has no skeleton, it must be trussed up or it may fall
apart in cooking. Tie cotton string around the bird, widthwise, every inch or
so along the bird's length. Turn the bird over and place in a roasting rack
inside a large roasting pan so it is oriented breast side up and looks like
a "normal" turkey. Tie the legs together just above the tip bones.
- Heat oven to exactly 190 degrees F. Temperature control is critical since
the Turducken is so massive that it has to be cooked very slowly at a low temperature.
Using an oven thermometer is highly recommended.
- Place the bird in the center of the oven and bake until a meat thermometer
inserted through to center reads 165 degrees F, about 12 to 13 hours. There
will be no need to baste, but accumulated drippings will have to be removed
from the pan every few hours so that the lower portion does not deep fry in
the hot oil. Remove the Turducken from the oven and let cool in the pan for
an hour before serving. Make gravy using your favorite recipe.
- To serve, cut bird in half lengthwise. Carve crosswise so each slice reveals
all 3 meats and dressings.