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Tony Stallone on how to make 'Turduchen'

November 14, 2010 9:05:32 AM PST
Peapod's food guru visits ABC7 with helpful information for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

It's a what Thanksgiving? Tur-duc-hen, you know, a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. I am not even going to get into what a Pig-tur-duc-hen is (ok, that is tur-duc-hen stuffed inside a pig, and yes it really does exist)!

Many of us have heard of this famous Louisiana dish (the turducken), but not many have had the opportunity to try it. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I can't tell you how many people have asked me if Peapod sells tur-duc-hen (the answer is yes). I believe it is because they are looking for a unique Thanksgiving experience, something different that their family and friends will enjoy and be able to talk about. And what better conversation piece than a tur-duc-hen?!

Some people attribute the tur-duc-hen to renowned Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme, but he does not accept responsibility for this increasingly popular creation. Actually, this type of dish has been around since ancient Roman days when decadent feasts were prepared with as many as 15 different birds stuffed into each other, the trick being each bird must be slightly larger than the previous one. Today most people attribute its beginning to a unknown farmer in the early 1980's who brought his birds to a butcher shop in southern Louisiana, Herbert's Specialty Meats, and asked him to prepare them this way. The word has spread due in large part to football commentator John Madden's comments and actually serving turduchen during his Thanksgiving football broadcasts. Since then it has been making an appearance on more and more holiday tables across the U.S.

Now how does the average American enjoy this great feast? There are a couple of ways; first on Sunday's show we will demonstrate how to do it from scratch. We start with a 20 lb turkey and bone it out, leaving the bones in the thighs, legs and wings but removing the rest. Anyone can bone out a turkey, it just takes a little patience and a sharp knife, as you basically tease out the bones from the birds. We then completely bone out a 5 lb duck and 3 lb chicken, removing all the bones including thigh, legs and wings so it is totally boneless. We then lay out the turkey (back down, legs pointed upward), sprinkle with a mixture of salt, pepper, ground red pepper and cayenne and then spread with our homemade cornbread stuffing. Some recipes call for a Cajun sausage dressing but I like the sweetness of the cornbread by itself that permeates the birds, making the meat sweeter and richer in flavor without all the heaviness of a meat stuffing.

Then we lay a duck on top of the stuffing and repeat the process with seasonings, then stuffing and finally the chicken with seasonings and stuffing. Then we fold it all up as best we can, tying up the bird using skewers, or if we are really experienced, with turkey lacers. Once this is all nicely tied we then roast at 325 degrees covered with aluminum foil for 8 to 10 hours (uncover for the last 2 hours) or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Yes, it takes that long if you are cooking from scratch! That is because the meat is so dense it takes a long time to cook through all the different layers of poultry and stuffing. It can be as long as 12 hours depending on the weight of the final product, so plan on getting up early Thanksgiving morning or the begin the night before and set your alarm.

Once it is done, allow to cool for at least 30 minutes letting all the juices and natural flavors to reabsorb back into the meat. While it is cooling take the drippings from the pan and make your Cajun Gravy. The gravy for this special feast includes the Cajun Holy Trio (green bell peppers, onions and celery), some good old-fashioned Louisiana roux and a little heat from some jalepe?os. Don't forget the cayenne pepper, or as famous Cajun chef Justin Wilson used to say, Kiiiiiyen! The gravy and the stuffing combine with the all the flavors from the turkey, duck and chicken to deliver a very memorable Thanksgiving.

If you do not have time to bone out all the birds or do not know a good butcher, you can always purchase a tur-duc-hen from Peapod. We sell a boneless rolled, stuffed tur-duc-hen that cooks in little over 2 hours. You can use the pan drippings to make that nice, spicy Cajun gravy we described above or if the weather is still cooperating you can also grill it. It is made by yet another famous Louisiana chef, Tony Chachere. I hope everyone is hungry on Sunday and ready to enjoy some tur-duc-hen just before Thanksgiving!


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