We all know the Thanksgiving classics; golden turkey, savory stuffing and tart cranberry sauce, just to name a few. While these tried and true recipes are delicious, we think it’s great to have options. For the most ambitious cooks, the turducken not only switches up the traditional Thanksgiving spread, but it offers a challenge. Let’s be clear, the turducken is no easy feat. It takes patience, skill and a love for meat to tackle this poultry masterpiece.
Popularized in 2007 by John Madden, when he carved the turducken on air and offered it to the winning team, restaurants and home cooks across the country have taken on the challenge. In fact, our very own culinary genius of The Meat House in Edmond OK, Ben Hoza, has perfected the art and recipe of the turducken. We’ve put together some of his top tips and instructions, if you’d like to spice up your feast this Thanksgiving.
To be successful, make sure you have the following equipment in your arsenal:
- Sharp flexible boning knife (we suggest sharpening before beginning the deboning process)
- Trussing needle (large knitting needle will work fine)
- Thin, 12-ply or less, butcher’s twine
- Roasting pan with “V” rack
- Instant read thermometer
Once you’ve got the proper equipment, the first step is the easiest and likely most familiar – making stuffing. The stuffing is essential to the turducken structure, as it acts as an extra binder between the birds and keeps the layers moist. Our particular recipe adds a little spice and sausage, because why not add another meat to this Frankenbird?
Cajun Stuffing Recipe
- 2 lbs raw Andouille sausage taken out of the casing (raw hot Italian sausage will work as a substitute)
- ½ lb butter (2 sticks), melted
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- ½ white onion, peeled and diced
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 Tbsp favorite Cajun seasoning
- 5 boxes corn muffin mix, prepared, cooled and cut into 1 inch cubes (4 lbs of cubed
pre-prepared cornbread will work fine)
- 15 oz can low-sodium chicken broth, [O1] hot
1. In a large frying pan over medium heat cook the sausage, breaking apart any large pieces with a wooden spoon until it begins to change color, about five minutes.
2. Add the melted butter, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and Cajun seasoning. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened – about five minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a very large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for ten minutes.
4. Remove plastic wrap and taste. Stir in salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until you’re ready for assembly.
- 22 to 24 lb Turkey
- 5 to 6 lb Chicken
- 3 to 4 lb Duckling
- 1 bottle of Cajun seasoning
- Using a very sharp flexible boning knife, begin deboning your turkey. Put your turkey breast-side-down on a cutting board and cut straight down the spine, from the neck to the tail, cutting all the way to the backbone.
- Begin to peel the breast from the rib cage, opening the turkey like a book. Work the breast meat loose from the bones, using your fingertips and the tip of the knife. Stay as close as you can to the rib cage as you work.
- Remove the meat from the scapula (wishbone) at the front of the bird. When you reach the breast plate at the front of the ribcage, carefully separate the bones from the meat. Do this by lifting the ribcage upward and slicing the meat loose with the tip of your knife, following the breast plate the whole way around. Be very careful not to poke holes through the skin with your knife.
- Carefully cut through the wing joint, separating the wings from the shoulder. It may help to dislocate the wing joint first with your hands by forcefully wiggling and pulling on the joint until it pops. Now that the breast meat and wings are separated from the skeleton, carefully cut through the backbone with your knife and discard the ribcage.
- With your knife, cut through the joint that connects the thigh bone to the pelvis. Now, remove the thigh and leg bones. Using the tip of your knife, start at the top of the thigh and carefully cut the thigh bone loose from the meat. It may help to loosen the meat at the tip of the thigh bone, grab the loosened bone with your fingers and pull the thigh bone out of the bird as you cut and pull the meat away from the bone. Once the thigh bone has been removed, continue to loosen the drum meat from the leg joint.
- Make shallow cuts with the tip of your knife as close as you can to the joint, following the contour of the bone and cartilage all the way around. Once you have cut around the leg joint, pull the leg bone with your hand and cut the meat loose. Pull the leg inside of itself as you remove the meat from the bone, turning the drumstick inside out. Once you remove the last of the drum meat from the leg bone, carefully release the bone and push the meat right-side-out, returning the leg to skin-side-out.
- Remove the bones from the other thigh and leg in the same manner. Once the thigh and leg bones are removed, you should have a turkey with no bones – except the wings. Run your fingers all around the meat for any missed bones or cartilage. Note:They are most commonly in the leg joints. Carefully cut any missed bones and return the turkey to the refrigerator.
Repeat deboning process used on turkey; however, you will be cutting the wings loose and discarding them. Once you debone the chicken and cut the wings loose, return your chicken to the refrigerator.
Repeat deboning process used on turkey and chicken; however, you will be cutting the wings loose and discarding them. Once you debone the duck and cut the wings loose, return your duck to the refrigerator.
Making the Turducken
- Place turkey on a clean work surface, breast-side-down. Tie the tips of the drums closed with butcher’s twine. Trim off any excess string. Season the inside cavity of the turkey with 3 tablespoons of your Cajun seasoning.
- Spread a generous amount of the stuffing evenly, about ½ inch, thick over the inside of the turkey, from the neck to the tail. Make sure to fill the shoulders well around the wings and the empty leg cavities with just enough stuffing to have them stand up by themselves.
- Place the chicken, breast-side-down, over the stuffing layer. Season with about 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. Spread the stuffing evenly, about ½ inch, thick over the inside of the cavity.
- Place the duck, breast-side-down, over the stuffing layer. Season with about 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. Spread the stuffing evenly, about ½ inch, thick over the inside of the cavity.
- The next part, sewing the turducken shut, may be the most difficult. We recommend finding someone to help on this step. Pull the turkey closed, making sure to center the chicken and duck inside the turkey. Using your lacing needle and twine, sew the turducken shut, starting at the tail. Do not stitch the turducken too close to the opening. When you make the sutures, push through skin, fat and meat. There is no meat along the backbone, so you will have to make your laces wider.
- Continue to close up the turkey, working toward the neck. Close up the neck and trim up off any loose twine. Season the outside of the turducken with ¼ cup of Cajun seasoning.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Place the turducken breast-side-up into your “V” roasting rack of the roasting pan. Bake, uncovered for approximately 5-6 hours or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F at the thickest part of the turducken.
- Check the roast every hour. If the skin is getting too dark cover the area tightly and carefully with aluminum foil.
You made it. Now all that’s left is to pick your favorite gravy, carve table side and wait for it – let the oh’s and ah’s commence. If this task seems daunting but you really want a turducken, reserve one today at your local Meat House or have our butchers take care of the deboning process for you. Let us do the work for you!
Cooked turducken photo sourced from: Schaller Webber