27 December 2012

How to make Turducken - a 4 bird roast

However you say it or spell it, I've wanted to create this dish every time we discuss our Christmas dinner options.
And, for our 2012 celebrations, we decide to make the Turducken.
The internet of course is usually a great source of information, but not really so when it comes to making this dish.  
I watched videos and blogs, but remained unsure about the crafting of the bird.

Until I came across a post at the food in my beard, and Elizabeth's Youtube video.
Both excellent guides, cutting through the flannel, and getting right to the heart of the exact details I was looking for.
I do appreciate an informed link that anticipates the needs of the reader.

So, after dithering somewhat, I choose to use turkey + guineafowl + chicken + pheasant in that order, and losing the ducken, which changes my poultry turducken into a distinctly gamely one.

Next up, I work on my stuffing,  I figure it's essential in keeping moisture within the meats, adding more taste, whilst also accentuating the layered lines.
I'm trying to avoid adding in even more meat, and eschew minced pork suggestions and go with a Spanish feel of lambs liver/ baked mushrooms/ Oloroso sherry/ thyme and shallot, soaked overnight in the booze, which I then purée to a paste the following morning.

And on Christmas Eve morning, I begin the deboning task, after sharpening my knives and watching Elizabeth's video link once more.

6 kilo organic turkey


The primary principle of deboning the turkey is to keep the skin intact.
Therefore, it's important to note that the blade of bone between the two breast areas gets very close to the skin.  Extra care is needed when working around this part, in order not to pierce the skin. 
But otherwise, it's a stress-free task if done steadily, which takes about 20 minutes using one filleting knife. 

I should also point out The Food in My Beard's tip of using breast meat when filling the turkey shell, rather than deboning any of the other birds you are using.  So, thereafter, it's a simple case of removing the fillets from the pheasant, the chicken and the guineafowl, reserving their carcasses for the 2 stocks: turkey and game.

deboned, thigh bones removed but leg and wings attached

I saw plenty of videos of cooks home and professional packing the bird to the max, one even tearing the skin in doing so.   
I decide to under stuff the bird, and to keep the vulnerable central back channel where the blade was housed stuffing free, and to pack just along the sides.
I also lay the chicken, guineafowl and pheasant breast left to right, feeling that the bird will have more form and structure running opposite to the turkey breast.  I season with the paste and salt and pepper as I work.

A tip.  Put your salt and pepper into a little pot, and throw away the remains which have been contaminated with raw meat.


the turkey is packed and stuffed, seasoning as you go along

Cocktail sticks are not enough to hold things together.   But as I'm putting the turkey back on my own, I need them to give me some security as I work with string and a darning needle.  Use pliers if the needle struggles to come through.
This element proves a bit trickier than I anticipated as it's a two person job, but the task is done thanks to my not overstuffing the bird.


pinned and trussed

Flip it over carefully, and admire your ability to still make it look like a Christmas turkey after all.


place on your trivet and baking tray

Tip: At this point you need to think about keeping the structure, as there is nothing really holding the bird together save the skin.
I slide two metal skewers through the body, wing - wing, and leg - leg.  It causes no harm, and helps with thorough, even baking too.

Frustratingly, cooking instructions for turducken generalise and vary from long slow roasting for 10hrs, to fast impatient baking for 3.
But I feel the easiest way to approach this is with a thermometer, aiming for an internal temperature of 70-75 to be sure.

roasted covered @170 for 5hrs 10mins
Tip: use two roasting tins.  After each baste, switch oven trays and wash out the grungy one.

I roasted my 9lb bird for 5hrs10 @170deg, reaching an internal temperature of 79 when I got round to testing.  
Removed from the oven, and rested the joint in 4 layers of foil wrap for 1hr30, whilst I made the sauce and vegetables in the freed up oven.

the skewers helped tremendously

Slice carefully, I'd recommend removing the wings and legs as the bones got in the way for me.

slice after resting

And serve your turducken with Jack Daniels enhanced gravy, parsnips, sprouts, roast potatoes, chipolatas and a plum jam.

Christmas Dinner