A Turducken Christmas

A Turducken Christmas

I make a mean turkey.

By that I mean that I’ve done a lot of experimentation with preparing the big bird for feasting with family and friends, and I have the whole thing down well enough that it is a task that usually falls to me for special holiday dinners. Everyone seems to feel fairly assured that I know the tricks to flavoring it well, keeping it moist, not overcooking it, not killing anyone via salmonella. As my family traditionally does turkey for Christmas, and we were for the first time hosting it at our house, I was again planning on doing some turkey magic.

But then I got a better offer. I was contacted by the good people at Echelon Foods, wondering if I would be interested in making and serving turducken this year.

Not familiar with turducken? The idea is simultaneously simple and luxurious: a chicken is stuffed in a duck, which is stuffed into a turkey, and between the layers of meat is stuffed, well, stuffing. Echelon’s version comes with either Italian sausage or chicken apple stuffing, in either an entirely boneless “roast” or more traditional “Original Turducken” that looks like a turkey but is boneless throughout the center, containing only the leg, thigh, and wing bones.

I’d been wanting to try turducken (both consuming and preparing) for some time, so I jumped at the chance, gladly opted for the Original Turducken with chicken sausage stuffing to serve to my visiting family on Christmas Day. While I would normally brine my turkey and season or cook it differently, I decided that I would follow the precise directions on the label, which was a low temp (220 degrees) slow roast in the oven until the desired internal temperature was reached. I kept it very simple, just laying the turducken on a rack in a roasting pan, in the bottom of which I put some roughly chopped carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, to catch the drippings.

turducken-raw

As it roasted, I occasionally added a little bit of water to the pan. I was concerned that the skin wouldn’t crisp up at such a low temp, but it did nicely, so in the future I would probably try covering the turducken with foil for the first hour or so, and just finish at high heat if more crisping is necessary.

Once the roasting was done, I let the whole thing rest for 30 minutes, while I made gravy from the drippings. Carving was a breeze: just slice off the legs and wings at the end of their bone joints, and you have a large, boneless roast ready for slicing. If you’re careful, you can easily get each slice to contain all three meats and a generous amount of stuffing.

Accompanied by my maple cranberry and apple sauce (see my recipe below), gravy, roasted vegetables, sauteed Brussels sprouts, and fresh baked bread, we sat down to eat.

Here’s my plate. 🙂

turducken-plate

So what did we think?

Here are a few PROS and CONS to choosing a turducken for your next holiday meal:

PROS

  • Really easy to prepare (very minimal handling of raw meat).
  • Multiple easy methods to cook (slow roasting, crock pot, grill, high heat, etc.) depending on what you like.
  • Really easy to carve — this is great for people who don’t like the process of carving a turkey.
  • A unique treat for the family for a special occasion.
  • Everything was very flavorful!
  • Overall a good value, as you pay for almost entirely meat/stuffing rather than for bones, giblets, etc. and have something far easier to prepare.

CONS

  • Despite the good value, the product seems expensive. At $9.99/lb at Safeway, my 10.5 lb Original Turducken would have cost me about $100, way more than I would normally spend for our usual Christmas turkey.
  • Once past the outer turkey layer, I would have liked less stuffing and a lot more duck and chicken. It appears that it is only duck and chicken breast meat that they use.
  • The turkey breast meat was, in my estimation, too dry, because it took a long time for the meat/stuffing deep inside to come up to the correct temperature. This may be helped by wrapping in foil while roasting for the first few hours.

My guests all seemed to really enjoy our feast! The kids and adults all ate well (my oldest scored his usual turkey leg — one good reason to go for the Original Turducken instead of their completely boneless Premium Roast version, in my estimation!) and there were lots of delicious leftovers to use in creative ways too. A couple of people commented that it wasn’t as good as my regular turkey, but we all agreed it was a nice treat and very delicious. My wife in particular really loved everything about the turducken.

A big thanks to Echelon for giving me the chance to try this with my family!

Whole Berry Maple Cranberry & Apple Sauce

You Need:

  • 1 package whole fresh/frozen cranberries (12 oz)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 apple cider (or orange juice, or water)
  • 1 cup peeled and diced apple
  • (Optional) orange zest

What to do:

  1. Add sugar, maple syrup and cider to a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add cranberries and diced apple. Return to boil, reduce heat to medium and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add orange zest if using, and stir in.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature, then store in refrigerator until serving time.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post, however Echelon did provide the product for review. All opinions are my own, and that of my dinner guests.

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