Anyone making a turdunken? Are they hard to do?
Anyone making a Turdunken?
Gear mentioned in this thread:
You need to be able to debone the birds while leaving them intact so they can be stuffed inside each other. and carved in slices. That's what's holding me back. As I recall, you remove the wings and drumstick as you can't debone those sections. I think the thighs stay?
Well, there's videos now so it looks like my memory of what's involved was way off. They open them up for deboning and stuffing, then stitch it back together at the turkey layer.
That depends, Abe, strickly on your skills with a boning knife.
In each case, the three birds are deboned, leaving the body whole, with the skin on. What you wind up with, in effect, are three fowl blankets. That's the entire hard part.
After that, it's just an assembly job, separating each layer with an appropriate stuffing. The whole thing is then folded back together, roughly in the shape of a turkey, and sewn/trussed to hold together while it cooks.
Virtually everyone I know who's made one was disappointed. The consensus is that it's an interesting way to show off, but the end result, in terms of flavor, leaves much to be desired. I've not personally tasted one, though, so have no opinion.
First, it's turducken.
Second, KY is right, they are difficult to properly execute. But if you ever have one that is done right, like the Turducken with andouille at Hebert's (pronounced AY-bear) Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, you know it's a fantastic treat. I think Hebert's does a mail order business, but I've only ever had one that was picked up from there.
Then you've answered your own question, Abe. Turducken is not a task you want to take on with poor deboning skills. The whole point is to show off your ability with a boning knife.
After my last post, Friend Wife and I got to discussing this. We decided that if you really want to show off, a turducken was for sissies. When a chicken becomes the largest bird involved, instead of the smallest, you know you're good.
How about, for instance, these combinations:
A dove inside a woodcock inside a grouse.
A rail, inside a teal, inside a mallard. Or, to take this one a step further, rail to teal to mallard to snow goose.
Or, keeping it to birds more readily available:
A quail, inside a game hen, inside a guinnea fowl.
I'll leave it up to others to name these combos.
On the contrary.
1) Turducken is delicious. You can't cheat and use all the same stuffing, either, nor a mediocre gravy --- you've got to do the whole thing. It's fabulous.
2) The boning is easy, if you know how, and the BIGGER the bird, the harder it gets. If you're clear on what you're doing, a chicken should not take you more than 5 minutes. A small bird should be no more, and usually less. A turkey is more complicated because the leverage over that size of material takes more work.
To learn how to do this, watch Jacques Pepin. If you look at the WGBH website, there is a "Julia and Jacques Cooking Together" thing where they do a boned-out turkey. Pepin does 90% of a chicken in something like 20 seconds, and then says that the turkey will take longer. If you surf around, you'll find him explaining what he's doing and how, step by step. I've seen him, live, fully debone a chicken in under 30 seconds, and he wasn't rushing.
For us mere mortals, put it this way: I make no claims to my great knife skills. None. I love knives, I keep them wickedly sharp, and I have wonderful knives, but my skills are on the medium-upper end of good home cooks. I can totally debone a chicken --- totally --- in under 5 minutes. I can take a chicken in a package from the store, debone it, stuff it, roll it, tie it, and clean up completely in under 15. The last time I made a Turducken, everyone else made stuffing, and I deboned birds, and the total cutting work took me about 25 minutes. I did the least work by far. The rest is just assembly, and you don't have to stitch if you don't want to --- fold the flaps over and you're all set, assuming you're not going to freak about slight indentations for the cross-ties.
The real problem is, you have to cook the darn thing for about 10-12 hours. Now's the time to figure out the automatic turn-on function on your oven!
A quick walk-through. Then watch Pepin do it. I'll assume you have a clue what to do here --- if not, ask and I'll amplify.
1. Remove the wishbone. Cut off the wings leaving only the uppermost bone attached to the carcass.
2. Put the bird on its side and cut straight down the back, neck to tail, cutting all meat but not bone.
3. Lift the upper shoulder skin and cut through the shoulder joint fully. Turn the bird to the other side and repeat.
4. Stand the bird on its bum, breast toward you. Firmly grasp the neck hole with one hand. With the other hand, grasp the wingbone and pull/pry out and down away from you. The meat will peel away from the back as you do this. Stop when you clearly see the oyster. Repeat this process on the other side. (The larger the bird, the harder this process is --- a chicken is the largest with which you can do it easily and neatly; a larger bird, like a duck or especially a turkey, may need some assistance from the knife.)
5. Grab the neck hole with one hand. With the other hand, stab the forked first fingers between the breast and the carcass and pull out and down until you feel it pulling against you at the oysters. The breast tenderloins will remain attached to the carcass --- don't worry about that yet.
6. Fold the meat more or less together, cut under the oysters, crack the thigh joints, and pull out as when normally disjointing a chicken. You should now have the carcass with tenderloins on one side and everything else on the other.
7. Peel off the tenderloins by running your thumb under them from neck down. Scrape out the tough tendons and set the meat aside.
8. Grab the top of a thighbone and cut all the way around the ball to shear all the tendons, then scrape the meat down to the knee. Repeat by slashing around the knee, cutting around, and scraping to the end. If you want the bird totally deboned, chop the end off the leg and pull out the clean bone. Repeat with the other leg.
9. Cut all the way around the ball of a wing bone, then pry down with the first three fingers of one hand while pulling on the ball with a towel clutched in the other hand. The bone will pop out clean. Repeat on the other side.
10. You now have a totally deboned bird. If you lay it flat on its skin, you'll see a bare spot between the leg and the lower breast, on each side. Fill these spots with the set-aside tenderloins, to make an even sheet of meat. If the meat near the neck is very thick compared to everything else, slash it sideways and fold over to fill the neck area and make an even sheet of meat.
Believe me, I can do this to a chicken in 5 minutes; Pepin can do it in under 30 seconds. You're smart, you can do in under 15 the first time, and quickly drop the time. If you beat 3 minutes I'm going into competition mode.