Christian O’Dowd of Cantering Caterer
Dating from the 1700s, when rich foods were de rigeur, Christian has revived the Turducken for today’s adventurous cook. A Turducken is a chicken wrapped inside a duck wrapped inside a turkey with stuffing on each layer. Christian’s recipe and instructions for this moist, tender, flavorful concoction that cuts like a loaf of bread are easy to follow, making this festive dish something anyone can create; and something everyone will remember eating!
To complement the Turducken, Christian recommends these side dishes (See recipes):
Rum-based Cinnamon Applesauce
Beets Served in a Pumpkin
A Couple of Tips:
Use your favorite stuffing recipe and be sure to use the giblets—that’s where the real flavor is! Christian uses a Grand Marnier and Dried Apricot Stuffing with a little Andouille sausage, which gives a sensational flavor. (See recipe below.)
Buy the birds at your local butcher shop and make absolutely sure you have the butcher de-bone them for you. This will save you a lot of time. You must have every bit of bone and cartilage removed from the chicken and the duck. Leave the drumsticks and the wings on the turkey—they are necessary for the appearance of the final product.
As a garnish use Japanese Skimmia, which are lovely garnet berries on glossy green leaves.
• One 18 to 19 pound fresh turkey
• One 7-pound fresh duck
• One 3 to 4 pound fresh chicken
• 1 recipe (see below) Dried Apricot and Grand Marnier Stuffing
• 4 oranges
To Assemble the Turducken:
Lay all three birds skin side (breast) down on a clean flat surface. Starting with the turkey, press about ¾ of an inch of the stuffing firmly into the flesh. Lay the duck on top of the turkey and stuffing, spread it out, and repeat the process only this time use about ½ inch of stuffing. Next, lay the chicken on top and put a small mound of stuffing in the center.
Cut 5 pieces of butcher’s twine into 30” lengths. You want to tie the turkey back together so that it looks like a turkey again. Slide each piece of the cut twine under the turkey. Gently fold the sides of the turkey up and tie it back together. It may take a few tries, and a few extra pieces of twine, but that is ok.
Turn the Turducken over and place in a roasting pan. Squeeze the juice of the oranges over the skin, cover in foil, and put it in the oven at 225°. You want to cook it slow and at a low temperature. You need to cook a Turducken this size for about 8 hours. During the last 2 hours you can uncover it to brown the skin. To make sure it is done, stick a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the Turducken. You have to be sure that the internal temperature is 165°. Take the temperature in a couple of places to be safe.
Christian likes to serve the Turducken on a nice wooden platter garnished with apricots, currants, berries; whatever is fresh, colorful, and available. Cut right through the middle of it with a sharp bread knife to show off the layers of the birds.
DRIED APRICOT AND GRAND MARNIER STUFFING
• 1 cup dried apricots; chopped coarsely
• 1½ cups Grand Marnier liqueur
• 4 cups homemade poultry broth – make this from the carcasses of the de-boned birds
• 2 cups celery, coarsely chopped
• 1 yellow onion, chopped
• 1 pound Andouille sausage
• 1 cup Gala apple pieces, chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
• 16 ounces breadcrumbs (day old brioche is fantastic)
• Freshly ground black pepper
• Kosher salt
• 1 cup slivered almonds
Place apricots and 1 cup Grand Marnier in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil to plump the apricots. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the poultry broth, preheat the oven to 400°. Place the reserved carcasses (bones, necks, hearts, wings, and fat) in a roasting pan with salt, pepper, carrots, celery, and onions; put in the oven for about 30 minutes; and roast until the bones are a rich golden brown. Next, put all of the bones and vegetables in a stockpot and add about two gallons of water. Bring to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer for about 2 – 3 hours. Cook until the stock is reduced by half and has a rich poultry flavor. Strain and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage. Remove from heat and chop parsley.
In a large mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, apricots with liquid, sausage, chopped apple, onion, celery, almonds, and poultry broth. Stir to combine. Add remaining Grand Marnier. Stir well to moisten stuffing. Season with thyme and pepper to taste.
Recipe courtesy of Christian O’Dowd of Cantering Caterer