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Turducken -- Good or just a novelty.

junescook Dec 6, 2010 01:30 PM

I host Christmas dinner each year for 12+ people, and every year I like to do something different. In the recent past I've done the usual rib roasts, plus saurbraten, crown pork roast, roast goose, and grilled whole filets.

Recently on a regional board someone inquired about obtaining a turducken for thanksgiving and that got me thinking about buying one for Christmas, one that came fully assembled. I think that a couple of markets around here may carry them, but I also see ads for places like the CajunGrocer.com which was highly rated by the Wall Street Journal recently. I figured that by buying it all assembled (bird complete with stuffing) I'd be saving a lot of time both as far as prep and even carving was concerned.

But I was wondering what the experience any CHers might have had with turduckens. The one WSJ reported on had cornbread stuffing with a bit of pork in it apparently. If you've tried them, do you feel that they're good, or just a novelty?

To see the WSJ review, click on the Wall Street Journal link from the page below:

http://www.cajungrocer.com/fresh-food...

  1. d
    DrDre Nov 28, 2013 01:05 AM

    Homemade Turducken is amazing!!! My bf and I have made 8 of them, and they've been a crowd pleaser every time. Now our friends say regular turkey will never be good enough... likely we'll continue making these until we're old and grey!

    To address the below:
    - Saying you hate pre-made Turducken is like saying you don't like TV dinners or those ambiguously pre-seasoned tri-tips you find at the end of the meat locker. It's not going to be the same as a freshly prepared meal without all those additives/preservatives.

    - Someone mentioned omitting the chicken. We'd have to disagree - every year the chicken has been the best part, as it soaks up all the drippings from the turkey and the duck.

    - We recommend using just one type of stuffing. We've tried many variations over the years, and each year have refined the recipe by omitting an ingredient here and there. We've found simpler stuffings complement the Turducken much better.

    A parting few tips:
    - This goes without saying, but a meat thermometer is key - target 155 degrees in the center of the Turducken.

    - We submerge all 3 birds in a wet brine the night before.

    - Please believe your stuffing and gravy will be incredible! Nothing beats gravy with drippings from all 3 birds. Just remember there will be 3x the juices so siphon when you can - last year 2 firetrucks came to our apt because all the excess drippings caused a small grease fire!

    - Can't knock it till you try it! Other than the de-boning, the assembly is quite easy. And no need to worry about making fancy side dishes, the Turducken will speak for itself. Everything else just becomes a vehicle for the Turducken!

    1. Bob W Nov 26, 2012 11:25 AM

      I'm still waiting to find confirmation, or debunking, of a rumor I once heard, about a South African version called an osturducken.

      1. e
        edwardspk Nov 26, 2012 10:17 AM

        After my niece made a special request for a turcken this Thanksgiving, I prepared the Big Easy Foods Tur-Duck-Hen, which I found at the grocery store for $60 (15 lbs). Having read online mixed reviews, I was dubious but willing to risk it.

        Overall, the bird turned out fine (i heeded the advice about cooking time and temperature). I thought the meats and dressings tasted good, but I was a little disappointed about the ratio of meat to dressing - way more dressing than meat. The meat layers were on the thin side, and I never really did identify the chicken. And this one seemed to have a duck breast in the middle, not the entire duck wrapped around a chicken.

        From what I can tell, there is a wide variation in quality across purveyors. So if you good CHers could chime in with what brand or provider of turducken you've had, and whether or not you would use the same one again, it would be very helpful.

        At this point, I do plan to do a turducken when I host Thanksgiving again next year, but I will probably do something other than the Big Easy Foods brand. So I'm on the quest to find other good options, or to possibly have a butcher debone the three birds for me and make my own. Although, I'd rather avoid all that work if it's possible to find a good bird that is truly the whole 3 birds stuffed one inside the other, as opposed to pieces of duck and chicken stuffed inside a turkey.

        1 Reply
        1. re: edwardspk
          d
          dantt Nov 26, 2012 03:27 PM

          Just saw the Big Easy Foods Tur-Duck-Hen in the Gourmet frozen foods section.
          Not enough dark meat. WAY too processed with a bunch of additives. I put it back!
          Make your own.
          Skip the chicken, it provides little additional taste.
          Deboning the turkey and duck is not very difficult and does not need to be neat. There is more meat and plenty of bones for stock and a tasty dressing. Plenty of video help on line.
          Tell us how it turns out.

        2. twyst Dec 28, 2011 09:15 AM

          We have been doing them at christmas along with a ham and a standing rib roast every year for about 30 years. Always goes over well. We have tried a few different suppliers, most of them really not so great. The last 5 years or so I have resorted to making my own, its not really that hard assuming you have some kitchen experience. Deboning a turkey is exactly like deboning a chicken etc.

          1. coll Dec 28, 2011 12:36 AM

            Finally got around to cooking my frozen Turducken. It was Big Easy brand, not Tony Chachare as I thought. The front of the box said freezer to oven, but after reading comments here I looked at the instructions on back.. Lucky I did because it said it was preferable to thaw for 48 hours; I gave it twice that to make sure, as it was kinda big. Supposedly if it was frozen solid you cooked it another 40 minutes which didn't sound right; I wasn't taking any chances. It was in an ovenproof bag and it did cook up nicely, but when I cut into it, it was all stuffing with a pieces of meat floating around. Ah well, live and learn, at least it wasn't the centerpiece of my meal. If you're going to buy one, skip this brand.

            2 Replies
            1. re: coll
              c
              Clarkafella Dec 28, 2011 09:10 AM

              I'm wondering if brand might be a large factor in this discussion. Not every turducken from every producer is going to be the same; some are certainly going to be better than others.

              If the product is well made and cooked correctly, there isn't any reason why it wouldn't be good.

              1. re: Clarkafella
                coll Dec 28, 2011 12:45 PM

                That's what I came away with, of course it's common sense but I was so excited to try Turducken I threw caution to the wind! So now I've had it and have a comparison if someday a good Turducken crosses my path. It did make up some nice gravy inside the bag, not a ton of it but I was glad it was there.

            2. Tripeler Dec 21, 2011 04:41 PM

              I think most people go for it because of the luscious-sounding name.

              1. i
                igorm Dec 21, 2011 07:43 AM

                We got a turducin for Thanksgiving two years ago fro CajunGrocer. It was OK but nothing special! I think your guests would like it from uniqueness point of view.

                1. c
                  cmb718 Dec 20, 2011 02:35 PM

                  A little bit of both but they are so fun. If you get one, you have to get it fresh. I get mine from Yore Meat Market in Brooklyn, NYC.

                  1. e
                    Eat_at_BnR May 13, 2011 09:09 AM

                    Make sure NEVER to buy a pre-made Turducken without seeing it first! ** For Christmas 2010, we purchased one at a high-end, so-called Gourmet Market for over $100. Big mistake! It was NOTHING like the real thing. True, it was turkey on the outside, but chopped up duck and pieces of chicken on the inside. And stuffed with, of all things, PORK. ** It cooked up nicely, and looked good, but tasted like sausage. We served it for Christmas dinner, since it wasn't until we cut into it that we discovered the Fraud, but we returned all the left-overs the next day, and got a FULL refund. ** If you want Turducken, either make it yourself, or make the supplier show the insides to you, before you buy.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Eat_at_BnR
                      junescook May 14, 2011 08:03 AM

                      We got ours at Christmas at the local Stop and Shop. It was from LA, and had the two stuffings (a spicy meat/rice one and a sweeter cornbread one) as I described above and cost $59 and was 15-17 lbs. We had a lot of people and everybody enjoyed it. The skin was crispy and the breast meat was moist. rather there being a duck, etc. inside, there were skinless duck breast and chicken thighs layered in the stuffing. Being boneless it made an easy entree to serve, and all-in-all an easy Christmas dinner to put together since turkey and dressings were all prepared. -- and at $4/lb not all that expensive. I'll do it again.

                    2. MandalayVA May 13, 2011 09:07 AM

                      I'm kind of meh on it. I had it at a tailgate party a couple of years ago and all I could taste was turkey and stuffing. The Cajun Grocer looks interesting though.

                      1. i
                        igorm May 13, 2011 08:39 AM

                        I would say a novelty. We ordered a turducken from cajungrocer for Thanksgiving because I heard so much about them. It arrived ready to cook, which was great. It was OK but not great. We wouldn't order it again, partly because of the cost. As far as the taste of turkey is concerned, a deep fried turkey leads the pack!

                        1. c
                          cleobeach Jan 4, 2011 06:47 AM

                          I bought one a while back for a family gathering. I can't remember the brand but it was expensive, nearly $100 sticks in my memory.

                          We cooked it for a family gathering. It was bland, really bland. The meat was moist enough and it looked good prior to carving but, in the words of my uncle "why not just make a turkey?"

                          Like someone else mentioned, the thawing and cooking instructions were WAY off.

                          Sadly, it fell well short of my expectations. I was hoping for all sorts of flavors but it tasted like turkey.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cleobeach
                            z
                            zenim May 13, 2011 08:07 AM

                            Definitely a novelty but every cook should make one just once in their lifetime.

                          2. erikschwarz Jan 3, 2011 09:25 PM

                            Neither. Though it might make for good dog food (see photo below).

                             
                            1. Firegoat Dec 30, 2010 08:50 AM

                              I'm lucky to live in a city where we have an excellent purveyor of turducken. (Hebert's Specialty Meats .. and yes they ship. http://www.hebertsmeats.com/
                              )My bf loved it, I liked it, the rest of my family thought it was a little too cajun spicy for their taste. They have so many varieties of stuffing and seasoning that I would do it again for a big dinner, just might get a blander one from them to satisfy my non-spicy relatives.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Firegoat
                                c
                                Clarkafella Jan 3, 2011 10:10 PM

                                I've been there! Got to watch him deboning the turkeys- they have some kind of thing that attaches to the breastbone, and with a few turns of the crank, yanks it right out!

                                As far as I know, they are the people who "invented" turducken!

                                1. re: Clarkafella
                                  Firegoat Jan 4, 2011 03:02 AM

                                  I think you are correct. A National Geographic story traces it to Hebert's

                              2. junescook Dec 29, 2010 07:40 AM

                                To wrap up my own original post: after vascillating between doing one of these or something like a fresh ham, I finally saw that a local market had turduckens for sale and DW convinced me to go ahead and get one since I'd talked about it for years. Turned out that it was very successful. Inside there were duck breast meat, chicken thigh meat, two dressings, a spicy pork and rice dressing and a sweeter cronbread dressing. I cooked it acording to directions, 3 1/2 hours covered, 1 hour + uncovered (until stuffing got to 165). What was remarkable was that the turkey, especially the white meat, was very moist, and the skin was crisp.

                                Bottom line: Everyone enjoyed it. At $4/lb. for a boned fully prepared entree that was so easy to serve, I don't think it was expensive. I would do it again in a heartbeat -- as would family members attending if hosting a crowd.

                                1. Uncle Bob Dec 12, 2010 01:58 PM

                                  IMO it can be good (Homemade) ~ Otherwise, it's an over hyped, over rated, and at times over priced novelty

                                  Fun!

                                  1. EWSflash Dec 12, 2010 01:05 PM

                                    I had some really great turducken last Saturday. Juicy, tasty, not greasy, it was wonderful. But it's the first time I'd had a good one.

                                    1. a
                                      AG4JAZZ Dec 12, 2010 10:27 AM

                                      I'm with cookcook and the rest that have made their own Turducken...(I now use breast meat only and roll and tie it, because using the whole birds yields too much to eat, before it goes bad) I use the basic recipe from Prudohmme, including the the three different stuffing and eggplant gravy..AND it is fantastic...defiantly worth the time and effort.
                                      I take two days to make and assemble it, because it is a lot of work for one person in one day.
                                      Prudohmme's recipe is all over the internet...just search for it on google.
                                      NOTE: I freeze the legs, thighs and wings and make a great cattitore, a few weeks later.

                                      1. k
                                        kbinsted Dec 11, 2010 12:01 PM

                                        I made a turducken this year for Thanksgiving, following these instructions:

                                        http://www.thesalmons.org/lynn/turduc...

                                        It wasn't even difficult, although deboning three birds was time-consuming (I'm not very good at it). I really enjoyed the result. The chicken got lost in the middle, but the duck fat gave the stuffing great flavor, and the turkey was good and moist. It was also nice to be able to just slice through the three deboned birds, rather than carving properly.

                                        1. b
                                          BBettinaB Dec 10, 2010 10:51 AM

                                          Turducken fittingly begins with the word "turd," not a word I am fond of using but which I think fits well in this case. This dish is a nasty lucullan excess reminiscent of those famously leading up to the fall of the Roman empire. Peacock's tounges with that, anyone? Sheesh. Have a little foie gras on the side. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKU...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: BBettinaB
                                            junescook Dec 11, 2010 06:48 AM

                                            Actually I was thinking of doing a little chopped liver pate to have as an app as well. But maybe, now that you mention that the empire might hinge on this, I could run down to the health food store and order a tofurducken.

                                            But honestly BBB, moral judgments aside, how do you think they taste? That's what I really want to know.

                                          2. TheKitchenHotline Dec 10, 2010 10:12 AM

                                            I love Turduken! I live fairly close to the area where it originated so I've known about and enjoyed turdukens for about 20 years now. When we first started getting them it went further than just three different birds; there were three different stuffings as well - oyster dressing, traditional cornbread dressing and then a dressing chock full of andouille sausage. You actually got five different proteins that way. But as the commercial success of the turduken has increased you don't see the three dressings any more unless you order directly from Paul Prudhomme (the inventor - same guy who came up with the blackening technique). And the other part of the original turdukens is that they were not roasted but smoked for 24 hours. Unless you are in or near Cajun country you have probably never had real turduken but rather some assembly-line knock off.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: TheKitchenHotline
                                              srae Jan 3, 2011 09:19 PM

                                              barf. no wonder you post about your love of lamb, too, on vegan recipes.

                                              1. re: srae
                                                k
                                                klyeoh May 27, 2011 01:32 AM

                                                ROFL!

                                            2. e
                                              Eat_at_BnR Dec 10, 2010 07:32 AM

                                              Whatever you do, find out HOW they make the TurkDuckEn, if you purchase it ready made!! Last Christmas, we bought one from Bristol Farms. BIG mistake. There was ground pork in it, mixed with ground up chicken. Stuffing was some mish-mash of rice and ground up who-knows-what. We served some, since it was Christmas dinner, and there wasn't anything else. Didn't taste bad, but certainly wasn't what we had thought we were buying for $99. The next day, we took the remainder back to Bristol Farms and demanded (and got) a full refund. If you want TurkDuckEn, make one. Buy your own chicken, duck, and turkey. Remove the bones, butterfly the duck and chicken; make three different kinds of stuffing. Search out a YouTube video of how to put it together, and It will be great fun. (TurDuckEn for FUN, but separate birds, cooked in ways best suited to each, for greater gourmet-ish taste.)

                                              1. paulj Dec 10, 2010 07:07 AM

                                                Via 'Shut Up,Foodies' as video of a turducken in a pig with multiple layers of bacon.
                                                http://www.shutupfoodies.com/?p=73590...

                                                1. s
                                                  Scuba Steve Dec 10, 2010 06:48 AM

                                                  I live in Cajun Country I am fortunate to be able to drive down the street and buy one prepared correctly and have to say I love them. I buy mine at Bellue's in Baton Rouge. Theirs are fantastic and you can get your choice of stuffing. A couple years ago I had to work part of Thanksgiving day and bought our entire meal from this place. I was skeptical but everything was fantastic. I love their plate lunches and their prepared foods are just as good if not better.

                                                  http://www.belluescajuncuisine.com/in...

                                                  1. c
                                                    Cathy Dec 10, 2010 06:24 AM

                                                    In July, a local chain had three whole TurDuckHens in the freezer. Manager's Special $5 each. I had to.

                                                    It cooked properly, looked pretty. Each meat tasted good individually(but I missed crispy chicken skin, crispy duck skin and the turkey skin was not edible from this bird). We made lots of sandwiches and creative dishes with the leftovers, using each bird separate from the other.

                                                    Basically did not consume the 'stuffing'. It was the same for all three birds (I thought each bird would have its own herbs/spices) and neither of us liked it.

                                                    Glad I tried it. Glad I did not pay full price. Reenforced my not experimenting by feeding to friends on a special day without trying myself first.

                                                    1. e
                                                      eprewitt Dec 10, 2010 05:33 AM

                                                      The turducken, as such, has been around in South Louisiana since the early 80s, if not earlier. Paul Prudhomme did not "invent" it, though he has gotten a lot of the credit.

                                                      But beyond that, elaborate entrées of animals stuffed into other animals (usually birds) has been around since Ancient Roman times. The practice became very popular in the 1700s (I think), with the architectural-style dishes that were then so in fashion (think Carême, even Escoffier).

                                                      So is turducken a novelty? Hell, no. Can it be done well? Absolutely. Can it be terrible, due to overcooking, inferior product, inexpert crafting? Hell, yes.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: eprewitt
                                                        h
                                                        hazelhurst Dec 10, 2010 07:17 AM

                                                        To hear the Common Wisdom on such things, not only did mr Prudhomme invent turducken but he also conceived of, and perfected, fried turkey, the roux-less "gumbo", and was instrumental in the Atlantic Cable, The Congress of Vienna and the design for the cathedral at Chartres.

                                                      2. j
                                                        jarona Dec 10, 2010 03:22 AM

                                                        Last Christmas I ordered a Turducken from Cajun Grocer. The Cajun Grocer has some great stuff to order. Turducken is subjective. The thought of a chicken, in a duck, in a Turkey has always intrigued me. So.....I finally broke down and got one as an aside for our Christmas Dinner last year. The consensus was this: My two grown sons loved it--they also love my bacon frosting! Nobody else was bowled over--it wasn't the worst thing I've ever had nor was it even close to the best. Got it once--won't reorder.

                                                        1. c
                                                          COOKCOOKS Dec 10, 2010 02:47 AM

                                                          I have made Paul Prudohmme's Turducken twice using his original recipe. I have also purchased a store bought version a couple of times. The purchsed ones do not even come close to the flavor of a homemade one using Paul's recipe. It was a lot of work but very impressive and tasty, especially with the Sweet Potato Eggplant Gravy.

                                                          1. d
                                                            dantt Dec 10, 2010 02:19 AM

                                                            I have made Turducken and serves it at a year-end party, fun and tasty.
                                                            My advice, skip the chicken. It becomes somewhat dry and brings little tast to the otherwise juicy birds.
                                                            Has anyone heard of using goose?

                                                            1. Bob W Dec 6, 2010 05:38 PM

                                                              We've ordered them twice, from the Gourmet Butcher Block (John Madden's supplier) in the NOLA suburbs. Enjoyed them both times. So I'd say it's a novelty, but a good one.

                                                              Also, this purveyor has all kinds of other stuffed meats too.

                                                              1. mrsfury Dec 6, 2010 04:41 PM

                                                                We cooked a Tony Chachere's frozen one a while ago. We loved it. You could absolutely taste the different birds. The stuffing was wonderful too. We had the Louisiana style & you can order them here. http://www.tonychachere.com/turduchens/

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: mrsfury
                                                                  paulj Dec 6, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                                  My son has cooked a turducken several time. That last was this brand. Timing has been problem, possibly because he hasn't allowed enough time for thawing. This last time he had to cut off most of the turkey because it was well up to temperature, and return the rest to the oven to rise another 15 deg. I wasn't impressed with the cornbread or rice stuffings.

                                                                  Years ago I boned and rolled a turkey. I should practice again on a chicken.

                                                                  1. re: mrsfury
                                                                    s
                                                                    Shann Dec 10, 2010 05:29 AM

                                                                    Some of the stuff on his website looks great, and not bad prices. Have you had other things from here?

                                                                    1. re: Shann
                                                                      mrsfury Dec 10, 2010 06:55 AM

                                                                      For the most part I find the seasoning a bit salty but I like it on all potatoes from fries to au gratin. We've used the marinades and boxed sides (no need to order them when they are at my local grocery but the on line prices are good on line). I've given the cookbooks as gifts and have my own as well. The original Tony's cookbook is my favorite (green one). My dad loves it too because it has all kinds of wild game recipes.

                                                                  2. luckyfatima Dec 6, 2010 04:36 PM

                                                                    I ordered a smoked Cajun turducken for Thanksgiving this year. It was deeeelicious. The Cajun seasoning, Cajun rice stuffing, and professional smoking make it so extremely flavorful. The duck and chicken remained tender inside the turkey and it all made for a wonderful meal. At least with our turducken, we had to eat into the turkey before hitting the duck and chicken. So if you have guests who want traditional turkey or who don't like duck, that is good. This turducken was a beautiful beast and we will definately be having one again next year. The thing is, I probably wouldn't be as enthusiastic about a turducken or any whole bird if it weren't smoked and full of Cajun flavah. But I like highly seasoned food. So perhaps if I had tasted a less flavorful bird which was home roasted, I might not be raving so much.

                                                                    1. Tripeler Dec 6, 2010 04:24 PM

                                                                      Never had one, but jeez -- if they could only do something about the NAME!

                                                                      1. j
                                                                        jla1960 Dec 6, 2010 03:38 PM

                                                                        I have cooked a frozen turducken twice and thought it ws great both times, as did everyone who I served it to. Will probably do another one this Christmas.

                                                                        1. scarmoza Dec 6, 2010 01:53 PM

                                                                          The in-laws served a turdunken for Thanksgiving dinner this year and I found it more flavorful and succulent than turkey as it's usually served at Thanksgiving. It might be the only time they'll serve it but at least it was an enjoyable and memorable experience.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: scarmoza
                                                                            s
                                                                            shelleykelly Dec 6, 2010 02:04 PM

                                                                            ITA with ipsedixit on every iota.

                                                                            I ordered a turducken "breast roll" as a smaller option than the whole bird(s) because there were only three of us. It was the size of a pigeon. And half of it was stuffing. It was supposed to feed 6, but due to the stuffing/meat ratio, we each got a serving and scraps for the dog.

                                                                            It was not a delightful experience. There was no taste distinction between the turkey/chicken and duck, and it boasted a 1,400mg/per serving dose of sodium. $51 I'll never get back.

                                                                            That, and the instructions were totally wrong. Someone didn't do their homework. Instrux said to defrost overnight in the fridge; it took two days, incl. 1/2 day at room temp. It said to cook for 2 hours; took 3 to reach proper temp, and our oven is correctly calibrated. UGH. never again.

                                                                            1. re: shelleykelly
                                                                              ericthered Dec 21, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                                              I'm going to jump in here and give my observation. Never having had one I will offer my opinion only. This whole turduken thing is not unlike the phenomonon caused by chef Prudhomme the first time he burned a rockfish and that started the "blackened" frenzy. John Madden presents a turducken to a bunch of footbal players and now you get the picture. I'm right up there with ipsedixit. It's a good revenue generator for these "cajun" outlets but I don't see "cajuns" falling all over themselves to make and much less eat a turducken. 'nuff said.

                                                                          2. h
                                                                            hazelhurst Dec 6, 2010 01:46 PM

                                                                            To me it is a novelty..I had some that we OK but I;d rather have a good duck I shot myself...or a rib roast

                                                                            1. ipsedixit Dec 6, 2010 01:44 PM

                                                                              I hate them.

                                                                              If I want to eat turkey, I'll make a turkey and make it properly.

                                                                              If I want a duck, I'll roast a duck and do it right with a nice crispy skin and with the fat rendered out nicely.

                                                                              Ditto with chicken. Roast the bird spread eagle, and then serve.

                                                                              And if I wanted all three -- a turkey, a duck, and a chicken -- then I'll buy each separately, prep each separately, and cook each separately. They deserve as much, and so do my guests (and tummy).

                                                                              If you wanted a screwdriver to fix your car for the most important drive of the year, would you buy a Swiss Army knife?

                                                                              If you wanted to open a bottle of wine, for that glorious anniversary celebration, would you rely on the silly corkscrew in that Swiss Army knife?

                                                                              I've never had a good experience with turducken. Never made it myself (or ordered it online pre-assembled), but it just doesn't taste very good.

                                                                              Just my 0.02.

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