Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Countdown 4: Turducken


I had always thought that 'turducken' was a very modern dish  - a deboned chicken inside a deboned duck, inside a deboned turkey.  The birds are stuffed inside the gastric cavities and spaces are filled with poultry stuffing. There appear to be a few different earlier versions of this dish .

In his 1807 Almanach des Gourmands, gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil ("roast without equal")—a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler—although he states that, since similar roasts were produced by ancient Romans, the rôti sans pareil was not entirely novel. The final bird is very small but large enough to just hold an olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds.
Gooducken is a goose stuffed with a duck, which is in turn stuffed with a chicken.An early form of the recipe was Pandora's cushion, a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a quail. Another version of the dish is credited to French diplomat and gourmand Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. The 1891 newspaper article French Legends Of The Table offers Quail a la Talleyrand: quail, chicken, turkey.  And  even more fanciful .... The book Passion India: The Story of the Spanish Princess of Kapurthula  features a section that recounts a similar dish in India in the late 1800s: "Invited by Maharajah Ganga Singh to the most extraordinary of dinners, in the palace at Bikaner, when Anita asks her host for the recipe of such a succulent dish, he answers her seriously, "Prepare a whole camel, skinned and cleaned, put a goat inside it, and inside the goat a turkey and inside the turkey a chicken. Stuff the chicken with a grouse and inside that put a quail and finally inside that a sparrow. Then season it all well, place the camel in a hole in the ground and roast it.
from Wikipedia

There are many recipes for turducken as it has become so popular, especially on  a Thanksgiving menu, so rather than try to choose one recipe over another for this post, here are some video instructions, from someone who can prepare a turducken in 15 minutes - note he only uses the duck breasts and not the whole bird. This video clip takes about 6 minutes.... 

I don't want to discourage anyone from trying this for Christmas dinner, but I did see one recipe which claims the preparation and cooking time to be approximately 13 hours!