Thanksgiving is known as a holiday of appreciation for the good things in our lives, gathering with family and friends to celebrate the changing season, and--in years past--to be thankful for the yield of the year’s harvest.
But, if we're honest with ourselves, the modern American Thanksgiving is truly a celebration of gluttony like no other day of the year. And what greater symbol of gluttony is there than the Turducken, or as I lovingly refer to it, the Vegan's Nightmare? A chicken stuffed inside a duck which is in turn stuffed inside a whole turkey and roasted until the fat and meat cook together into a sort of Frankenstein's monster of roasted poultry.
Of course, the art of stuffing meat inside of other meat, sewing it up and cooking it isn't exactly new. In fact, engastration, as it is called, originated in the Middle Ages. And while the turducken is certainly the most well-known recipe involving engastration today, the Whole Stuffed Camel is an incredible, if rarely prepared, feast that includes stuffing fish into chickens, those chickens into a lamb, and finally the lamb into a whole camel which is then roasted on a giant spit rod.
Now we don’t have a grill large enough to fit a whole camel, so we’ll settle for a Turducken. But how do you prepare a Turducken? The process is fairly simple, but does take some time.
So while you're preparing the menu for this year's Thanksgiving feast, we hope you'll give the Turducken a try, that is, if you can't get your hands on a camel.
- 1 (15 lb) turkey
- 1 (6 lb) duck
- 1 (4 lb) chicken
- Your favorite poultry seasoning
For the Sausage Stuffing:
- 2 lb french bread, cubed
- 1 lb country pork sausage
- 1 cup leeks, halved, sliced 1/4” thick
- 1/2 cup carrots, peeled, diced
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp fresh sage, minced
- 1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 quart turkey stock
- 2 eggs, beaten
- To make the stuffing, set your grill to 250ºF. Place the cubed bread on a sheet pan. Cook until dried out, about 1 hour. Set aside.
- Brown the sausage in a 12” cast iron skillet. Remove the sausage from the skillet when cooked through, but leave behind the rendered fat. Add the leeks and carrots and cook until the carrots are tender. Add the garlic, thyme, sage, rosemary and chili flakes and cook another minute, stirring. Add the wine to deglaze. Cook until the wine is almost completely reduced down.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the dried bread and sausage mixture. Mix well. Slowly add the turkey stock until the stuffing is completely moistened, but the bread cubes still hold their form. Add the eggs and mix well.
- Debone the chicken, starting by cutting alongside the backbone and following the rib cage around to the breast bone. Do the same from the other side of the backbone. Remove the flat of the wing completely and save for another cook. Cut around the bone of the wing drum, working your way toward the knuckle. Pull the bone out and slice free. Next, debone the thigh. Slice along the thigh bone, down to the joint where the thigh meets the leg. Slice around the bone until it is freed. Then, slice around the knuckle of the leg drum, scraping the flesh away from the bone and working your way toward the end of the leg. When the bone is exposed enough to grab ahold of, pull it until it turns the meat of the leg inside out and slice the tendons to free the bone. Discard all bones.
- Repeat the deboning process on the duck.
- Repeat the deboning process on the turkey, with two exceptions. Leave the wing bones and leg bones in place.
- Season the flesh with your favorite poultry seasoning. Place the turkey skin side down on your prep surface. Press a layer of stuffing over the meat, distributing evenly across the surface.
- Lay out the duck, skin side down, on top of the turkey. Season the duck with your poultry seasoning. Press a layer of stuffing over the meat, distributing evenly across the surface, and filling the leg and wing cavities.
- Lay out the chicken, skin side down, on top of the turkey. Season the duck with your poultry seasoning. Press a layer of stuffing over the meat, distributing evenly across the surface, and filling the leg and wing cavities.
- Pull the sides together, meeting where the backbone once was. Sew up the cut along the backbone using butcher twine and a large needle making sure to go through flesh as well as skin, so it will not tear out. Sew up the ends (top and bottom cavities), to keep the filling from spilling out.
- Place the turducken on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Place in the refrigerator to dry out the skin overnight.
- The next day preheat your grill to 350ºF setup for indirect heat. Remove the turducken from the refrigerator. Rub a thin layer of oil over the skin. Season the skin with your poultry rub. Cook the turducken on the cooling rack, over the sheet pan in your grill.
- When you achieve your desired color on the outside of (3-4 hours into the cook), tent a large sheet of foil over the turducken. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Rest 20 minutes before slicing to serve.