Tag Archives: duck

Conquering the Poultry Leviathan: Turducken

“Well, we knocked the bastard off !” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Alright loyal eaters, we’ve arrived at the mother lode of food preparation on the list of 30: the turducken.  We’re talking about 35 pounds of poultry layered like delicious nesting dolls of meat and stuffing.  But brace yourself, the preparation is not pretty.  Or brief.  So you might need snacks for this post.  Actually, skip the snacks and just get a beer.  I will do my best to keep the pictures tasteful and the steps  concise.

Put on your mountain climbing face…turducken is the Everest of the poultry world.

Step 1. Hire a sherpa: Read your recipe (over and over) and plot a strategy.

I got a little help with this challenge.  A friend had convinced me to include turducken on my list, with the promise that he would help me my first go around.  He was the Tenzing Norgay to my Hillary.

Per my friend’s suggestion, we used Paul Prudhomme’s recipe for turducken.  The recipe is incredibly thorough and has ALL the ingredients and steps listed, including for the stuffing(s).  Yes, plural.  Also, the final item on the ingredient list IS  “1 small hammer”.  I warned you it wasn’t pretty.

I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the recipe, but you can see the whole thing here.  I read this recipe over and over in the days before cooking so I would have a big picture idea of the whole process and so I wouldn’t panic from the altitude (altitude/butchering).

Step 2. Assemble your climbing gear: Shop for ingredients and order your birds.

We ordered the birds from a specialty deli and had them defrosted on site.  If you’re local, B&B Deli is the way to go.  Plus, while we were waiting for our birds (and lunch!), I got an appetizer.

A little appetizer while waiting to pick up the turkey.

And yes, that’s a piece of deep fried bacon.  They have EVERYTHING at B&B and it’s locally sourced, nose to tail.  I even spotted the elusive sweetbreads in a freezer case.  Also, I knew we were in the right place when I spotted this:

These guys don't mess around

Step 3. Map out the climb: Set your plan of attack.

The turducken party was set for a Saturday evening.  So, I made the stuffing on a Thursday night, Friday evening was reserved for assembly, and the “bird” cooked for about 8 hours on Saturday.  Yes…that’s three days total.   Take the time to develop your strategy and set up your base camp before you head to the summit.

As my counterpart said, “Turducken is less like cooking and more like staging a military invasion.”

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Madison Avenue to Main Street

“Look we’ve got oysters Rockefeller! Beef Wellington!  Napoleons! If we leave this lunch alone, it’ll take over Europe.” – Roger Sterling, “Mad Men” Season 1

Sunday night was a big night in the Flyover House:  We roasted a duck AND Season 4 of AMC’s Mad Men premiered.

In anticipation of our favorite show returning for another season, I planned a retro menu even Betty Draper could be proud of.  If Betty Draper cooked.  Or ate anything other than Melba toast and chardonnay.

We started the evening with an Old Fashioned and the classic appetizer, Devils on Horseback.  We used the classic recipe for Old Fashioned’s.  You can find one here: “Mad Men” Classic Cocktails.  I must say, I think that people drank differently in the 1960’s.  The drinks seem fuller, heavier, the flavors more complex, requiring you to slow down, sip, enjoy. I feel more relaxed just writing that.  As Roger Sterling would say, our generation drinks for the wrong reasons.

To go with our heady drinks, I made devils on horseback.  They’re simply dates wrapped in bacon cooked under the broiler for a couple minutes until  hot and crispy.  The salty bacon is great with the bourbon.

We're just getting warmed up

And for our main event: duck l’orange.  The recipe I found was featured in Gourmet magazine in 1948 and reprinted in 2006.  The good people at Gourmet even noted that this recipe is not the tired 1960’s cliche, but truly a lovely dish deserving of place on the modern table.  You can find the recipe here: duck l’orange.

A DUCK

I am thrilled to report that even my flyover small town grocery store carried frozen duck.  Much like turkeys, frozen can work almost as well as fresh thanks to modern processes of flash freezing.  This recipe calls for a Long Island or Peking duck.   My bird just said “DUCK”.

Close enough.

The bird gets seasoned inside and out with salt, pepper, a little cumin, and coriander.  Stuff the duck with onions, oranges, and fresh thyme, parsley, and marjoram.  Then into the roasting pan on a bed of onions, carrots, and celery.

It gets roasted for 30 minutes on high (475°) heat, then the temp is lowered and you add white wine, orange juice, and stock to the roasting pan and cook until a thermometer says  you’re not going to poison your guests (165° should do it).

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