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Turducken Advice?

We are going to have Turducken for Thanksgiving this year (first time---so excited), and I am wonderiing which was to go...Order one from one of the many Cajun companies who will ship them overnight OR Have a butcher debone the birds and do the rest myself.
Any thoughts? Advice? Recommendations?

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  1. This is probably not what you're hoping to hear -- but I'd STRONGLY recommend sticking with turkey. Our friends brought a turducken from New Orleans, where they live, to a New Years dinner at our home a couple of years back, and it was really BLAH -- not evenly cooked, not even nice looking on the plate. Maybe it was the way we received it -- it was purchased from a supposedly reliably good source (I can't recall the name) where it had been prepared, cooked and flash frozen, as they do for shipping. We only had to heat it and slice it. Maybe our limited experience with turducken was not typical, but I fail to see what all the hooplah is about. It seems more "gimicky" than good. I'd gladly take a nicely roasted turkey over turducken any day.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CindyJ

      CindyJ, I completely agree with you! I have a hardcore turducken loving friend, so we've all had this a number of times. It always turns out tasting like... chicken... (personal opinion, sorry to all the other turducken lovers out there!)

    2. I'd try to do it myself. You could use dressings you like, flavors you prefer, and it sounds like fun to me. I bone my own chickens occasionally and stuff them with rice or bread dressing or whatever, and they are always a winner. The other day, as I was working on my chicken, I thought, it couldn't be much harder to do a couple more birds and types of dressing to make my own turducken. I may yet do it!

      1. Last Thanksgiving I took the "have the butcher debone the birds" route and the meal was a success. The stuffing was nothing fancy whatsoever; no sausage stuffing, for instance, tho I did alternate cornbread and traditional between the layers. Even without tackling the deboning it was a hell of a lot of work. The result was a meal everyone enjoyed and more leftovers than ever given that there's really so much meat! If you're excited about it, definitely give it a try.

        Anyone contemplating doing it start-to-finish on their own owes it to themselves to review this story: http://www.blacktable.com/turducken03...

        Enjoy, KP.

        1. As someone who lives in the New Orleans area and has had one too many turduckens, I would agree with the poster that it is not as good as a brined oven roasted or fried turkey. However, it is an interesting twist to the traditional bird, and one worth trying once. The pros and cons of buying the premade Turducken are thus: Pro- Comes out beautiful looking and does not require much effort to cook. Con- Will not taste like you are expecting/ meats usually dry out. The stuffing they use here is usually a bland rice based dressing. If you do it yourself you can make your own stuffing and spice it up. This being said, my dad who lives in another state takes one back every year to his office for a big holiday dinner. Everyone seems to love it, but I think it is more the novelty than the taste.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mtleahy

            Yep, I also think it is more of a novelty item. Do a search on this board and you will find a couple of threads from Thanksgivings past re the pros and cons.

            For those who enjoy making this at home - how do you get past the problem of the two internal layers of soggy, flabby skin? Ugh...

            1. re: LizATL

              I was really worried about the skin but it seems the long cooking process melts it away - I've done 3 turduckens and no sign of yucky skin (although I do trim a lot away) - also I used to make a huge terrine (corned tongue inside a capon inside a goose with forcemeat at each step then surrounded in hard pastry) - same thing - even the thick goose skin melted away.

              1. re: ElizabethS

                That is really interesting. The one time I had a homemade one, the skin(s) were unplesant. I wonder if it wasn't cooked enough or at high enough heat. And the person who made it is a very good cook...curious...

                1. re: LizATL

                  From what I've seen, some of the Louisiana Turduken markets are removing the skin from the chicken and the duck. I had Whole Foods make me one that way with a spicy cornbread stuffing, and it was great. I don't consider it a "novelty" item at all, and neither do the cajuns I know in the Houma/Montegut area. With that being said, I've come to find out that Deep Fried turkey (breast, drumsticks, and thighs) are my favorite way to cook a turkey now.

          2. I used the NY Times recipe two years in a row at Christmas (brought back by popular demand) - I like to debone and if you have patience and reasonable knife skills it is really straightforward. (I didn't use their stuffing recipes - used my own - one sausage and a traditional bread)

            It was fun and showy to serve but I preferred regular turkey - I was a lone voice though.

            Following are link to the NY Times article and recipe and I'll try to upload some pics



            5 Replies
            1. re: ElizabethS

              My God the photos worked! They've never worked for me before! - here's the final serving shot

              1. re: ElizabethS

                And one more from the previous year

                  1. re: ElizabethS

                    Thanks for these wonderful pictures. I've always wondered what a prepared turducken looks like!

                    1. re: ElizabethS

                      Those are great pictures Elizabeths I always wondered how it looked side view. Really gives us a better idea of what all the fuss is about. I'd be willing to try it after seeing your photos~ Thank you!

              2. To me, the whole turducken thing is way overblown. All of that stuff stuck together ends up tasting like a mishmash to me. That said, the best commercial version is found at Hebert's Specialty Meats in Maurice, LA.

                Hebert's Specialty Meats
                Maurice, LA, Maurice, LA

                1 Reply
                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                  Wow, thanks for all the advice and link, y'all. I am, despite warnings, very excited. And although I had been leaning toward ordering one pre-prepared, after seeing ElizabethS's pictures, I am leaving toward make it myself. Thanks for those--it looks amazing.
                  Thanks so much!

                2. I have made Turducken twice, both times very successfully - though it was rather labor intensive. I can share my way of dealing with everything, especially my stuffing recipes which I thought were wonderful together... Here is what I did:

                  I had my butcher debone the three birds entirely, using a 40 lb turkey, the largest duck available, and a fryer (12lb) chicken. I had him keep all of the innards for me in a bag for the gravy (standard gravy, just with more different types of meat!).

                  The Turkey lies on his back with everything still attached (drumsticks too) and you add the sausage stuffing (recipe below) and then you gently lie the duck on his back on top of the stuffing -- but leave the drumsticks of the duck out for now, then layer the cornbread stuffing (recipe below) then the chicken goes on his back on top of the stuffing, leaving the drumsticks out for now like the duck. Everything gets rolled up together as tight as you can, tying it with butcher's twine. Cover it in cheesecloth, baste with olive oil or wine or butter, whatever you usually use on turkey, and bake at 250 for up to 13 hours. Seriously. After the first 6 hours, baste every hour until it's done (use a thermometer to determine when that is). When it's looking close to done, throw the extra drumsticks into the dish, and when it's virtually finished baking, take off the cheesecloth, and let it all brown for the last 20-30 minutes or so.

                  Stuffing recipes:

                  Sausage stuffing.
                  1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
                  1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
                  3 cups onion, chopped
                  2 cups celery, chopped
                  1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
                  2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
                  6 cups croutons
                  1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
                  1/4 cup maple syrup
                  1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
                  2 cups chicken stock, plus extra as needed
                  2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
                  Salt and pepper

                  Saute sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Discard sausage fat in pan. Add butter, onions, and celery to skillet and saute until tender, about 10 to15 minutes. Add to sausage, along with herbs and croutons, mix to combine.

                  In a medium bowl, combine allspice, maple syrup, cherries, pecans, and chicken stock. Add to crouton mixture. The mixture should be moist, but not soggy. Add more chicken stock, if necessary. Transfer stuffing to turkey.

                  Cornbread stuffing:

                  One whole cornbread (one normal pan of cornbread, I make my own so it's hard to say exactly what size it is)
                  7 slices oven-dried white bread
                  1 sleeve saltine crackers
                  2 cups celery, chopped
                  1 large onion, chopped
                  8 tablespoons butter
                  7 cups chicken stock
                  1 teaspoon salt
                  Freshly ground black pepper
                  1 teaspoon sage (optional)
                  1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (optional)
                  5 eggs, beaten

                  In a large bowl, combine crumbled cornbread, dried white bread slices, and saltines, and mix together and set aside.
                  In a large skillet, saute the chopped celery and onion in butter until transparent, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Pour Sauteed mixture over cornbread mixture. Add the stock, mix well, taste, and add salt, pepper to taste, sage, and poultry seasoning, and mix well. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Stuff your duck.

                  1. I forget to mention something - I debone the chicken and duck the week before and freeze them - then do the turkey the day before Christmas (remembering to remove the duck and chicken to thaw!) - it's too much deboning to do all three birds at once.

                    1. Every time I think about making turducken I get stopped by the first four letters of the name. Anyway, it sounds like a novelty more than anything else.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mr. Cookie

                        I couldn't agree more. I don't think I could ever bring myself to cook or eat something with a first syllable of "turd" and a last two of "ucken." It just sounds revolting.

                      2. We had one for Thanksgiving once and everybody's curiosity was satisfied. We have not felt the need to repeat.

                        My advice is skip it.

                        1. Whole Foods made my Turducken. It was stuffed with Boudin (spicy cajun sausage), and injected with cajun seasoning (crab boil, if you can believe that). And it was delicious. Another thing I tried recently, after years of assuming it was "trailerpark food", was a deep fried turkey (breasts and legs), and I have to say, that was the best turkey I've ever eaten. Crisp skin and incredibly moist.

                          1. I forgot to mention, a Turducken takes forever to thaw out (if you buy it frozen), and it takes forever to cook because it is a solid piece of meat, unlike a regular turkey, which is obviously hollow. So, leave yourself plenty of time.

                            1. People have been begging me for years to make a Turducken... so for a Superbowl party last year, I did it... and I will never do it again. It was gross. The birds were cooked well and all, but trust me, the concept sounds much more delicious than the end result... even my guests never asked to see Turducken again!

                              1. I made Chef Paul Prudhomme's (he invented this dish) original version. It was similar to his current version that I've linked to below except that the original had an Oyster Dressing and his current version has a Shrimp Dressing. It was very very tasty, 3 birds with 3 different stuffings, it was NOT gross at all and the only reason that I haven't made another one is that it was a lot of work boning the 3 birds in addition to making 3 dressings instead of the usual 1. I still receive requests for it!

                                I would never buy a pre-made Turducken, you want top quality very fresh ingredients and very carefull handeling (gotta keep the proteins cold).


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sel

                                  I can vouch firsthand that the pre-made turduckens available in south LA from the Gourmet Butcher Block and from Hebert's meat market in Maurice, LA are very high-quality. Can't speak to other pre-mades available farther from the "turducken hearth of origin".

                                2. I don't know if I'd like this but it looks great. I'd love to give it a try. Both make and eat.


                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Just make sure you have enough people to feed. We made one from pre-boned birds and the final weight was around 40-50lbs.
                                    Imagine the leftovers!

                                    It's a really fun process to make all the stuffings and assemble the bird. Unfortunately, my dad took dictator'd the oven and overcooked it a bit. Still, I'd do it again someday when I get older.

                                    1. re: lost squirrel

                                      Well since it's just Mrs. Sippi and I, I can't foresee it happening anytime soon.


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        You can buy mini turducken rolls that are quite tasty, and not too much for a couple who don't mind eating leftovers once or twice.

                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                          But then I wouldn't be making it myself. That takes all the fun out of it.


                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            If you're just two people, I can't see the sense in making one of these yourself.

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              Which is why I can't foresee it happening anytime soon.


                                            2. re: Davwud

                                              Have you ever boned a chicken, duck, and turkey? If not, by the time you/ve finished, the meat would be spoiled. De-boning poultry isn't rocket science, but, it is time consuming.

                                              I learned early in life that there are two ways to do things. The hard way and the easy way. The price that Herberts, in Louisiana, or Whole Foods, in your home town, might be worth your consideration, unless you have a lot of time to do it. Herberts sells thousands of Turduckens every year. They can do a great job in 1/10th of the time. I had Whole Foods make one up for me last year with a spicy boudin stuffing, and it was just great. They have several different stuffings (I'd recommend the spiciest as turduckens are bland, otherwise). And, when you consider the price of a turkey, duck, chicken, and the specialty dressing, it's a bargain. But, if you want to do it for yourself, it will certainly be a learning experience. Good luck, and no matter which way you go, I'm sure it will be great.

                                              1. re: dhedges53

                                                I will make one before I ever order one. I can get the birds deboned by a butcher.

                                                It may be the one and only time I ever do it but it's something I'd love to have a go at.


                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                  Turducken is basically a gallantine (deboned bird) stuffed with other deboned birds and stuffing. If you are interested in how it tastes but don't have your own private army to feed, perhaps you should try a turducken ballotine. A ballotine is basically a deboned chicken (or other fowl) leg, which is then stuffed with farce (chicken puree/mousse) and other flavourings, and rolled up and braised, poached or roasted.

                                                  In this case, you could buy a turkey leg, a duck leg and a poussin leg, and make it with that. I've never done this myself, but ballotine requires a lot less knife skills and a lot less meat, and it might be kind of cute for dinner for two. And it would give you an idea of what those meats would taste like together.

                                                  1. re: Gooseberry

                                                    That sounds like an interesting idea.

                                                    There is a Cajun supply place in town that also has a little hot bar. Supposedly they do turducken around thanksgiving. I may try it there before undertaking any overly involved task like this.
                                                    I wouldn't want to do it and then decide I wasn't fond it.


                                                2. re: dhedges53

                                                  Boning fowl is easy once someone shows you how or even once you follow the directions in a good cookbook with photos. I can do it in under ten minutes even though I do it infrequently.
                                                  I might trust Hebert's (not HeRbert's, and pronounced A-bear) to do a Louisiana specialty, but I'd do it myself before trusting Whole Foods.

                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                    I agree - I actually really enjoy doing it - learned from the Time Life Terrine Cookbook photos (for the giant goose gallantine I mentioned above) and that's a more complicated task because the back bone is never broken.

                                                    1. re: ElizabethS

                                                      That is the BEST cookbook and those instructions are very clear. When I deboned more frequently, I could do it pretty quickly and did even pretty tiny birds for single servings for dinner parties. Stuff a cornish hen with rice. Made it easy to do something fancy on my really limited budget. Or a chicken ballottine for a potluck. Cheap and impressive.
                                                      As you say, a useful skill. I enjoy it too.

                                      2. For our first Thanksgiving in the South I decided to get one. It was from cajun grocer I think (the dot com one) and it arrived in dry ice, all seasoned and stuffed with a sausage/rice type of stuffing. It cooked up perfect but went to hell when we carved it. Our guests were all family, and no one lied- "This is........different. Do you have any more baked ziti?"
                                        But I'm glad we got it, we had to see for ourselves.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                          One time years ago, I got to go into the back room of Hebert's, where they were deboning the turkeys for their 1000's of turducken orders. They used some kind of vise like device that clamped down on the turkey, and had another part that clamped down on the bone. The butcher would turn a handle a couple of times, and the bones would pull out of the carcass. The whole process would take maybe 30 seconds!

                                          Lesson learned: leave the deboning to the professionals!

                                        2. a post one of my favourite blogs might be helpful
                                          it looks truly beautiful and delicious and has step by step photos.

                                          1. Sorry this is late ... We have had a turducken for the past two years, and which way you go probably depends on the effort you are willing to put into the experience. My vote would be to 'build' it yourself. I have made three so far, and it is a bit time consuming, but not that difficult. A butcher can debone the birds, but make certain that you give explicit instructions. (ie. completely debone the duck and chicken, but leave the leg and wing bones in the turkey, and debone from the back of the birds not the breast.) Personal experience has shown that some butchers have never heard of a turducken.

                                            You can save time by substituting boneless/skinless breasts and thighs for the whole chicken. I used four breasts and two thighs. not only does provide more chicken down the length of the turducken, I think it is tastier because the bigger cuts of chicken are consistently more flavorful, also you don't end up with that extra bit of skin. Using light and dark meat creates the 'proper look' when the meal is served.

                                            We used three suffings (Anduille sausage (ground not chopped), shrimp, and cornbread), but modified the original recipes to suit or taste.

                                            Part of the experience is in the carving and serving. Cutting the whole turkey crosswise first, and then cutting each slice in half is something your guests don't get to see see every day.

                                            One final hint ... let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour before carving. It will be juicier. and the shape will hold together much better.

                                            At any rate, however you prepared your turducken, I hope it came out well. I am confident that everyone enjoyed it.

                                            1. After cooking for three days for a total of something like 50 people, I was really looking forward to my mailorder turducken. When I pulled it out of the fridge after 2 days of thawing at about 1 p.m. on Christmas day, the thing was still fairly frozen solid and required more than 7 hours of roasting. When finally cooked, the thing was dry, not at all tasty and a complete waste of time and $$$. I wish I had just done a turkey. Luckily, we had lots of leftovers from previous days, as well as some splendid mac/cheese and other sides, so we didn't starve at 9 p.m. on Christmas evening. But never again, even if the thing had thawed properly.