In November, I buy every food magazine I can get my hands on, forever seeking the current year’s trend in turkey preparation. Rarely, though, do I come across a recipe for turducken, the ever-daunting turkey that has been stuffed with a duck that has been stuffed with a chicken. Luckily, ICE Master Butcher Rudi Weid demonstrated how to assemble a whole turducken to a crowd just in time for Thanksgiving this past Tuesday. The demonstration included how one removes the bones from a turkey, a duck, and a chicken, then stuffs, ties-up and roasts the entire turducken — the additional bonus being a comprehensive lesson in poultry butchery for ICE career training culinary students.
During his demonstration, Director of Student Affairs Andy Gold roasted two turduckens. While the crowd sampled a Seafood Jambalaya Turducken and a Creole Sausage and Cornbread Turducken, Chef Rudi shared some of his tips for success with the elaborate Thanksgiving dish.
*A 18-20 pound turkey is the best size for roasting. A turkey that weighs less than 16 pounds is “unfinished.” Chef Rudi finds that the breast is not completely matured on the smaller turkeys
*When deboning the turkey, leave the excess neck attached to the bird. If the turkey breast skin rips you can use the neck skin to help patch it up.
*Ducks are very fatty, so it is imperative to remove all excess fat on the bird when making a turducken. You don’t want all that additional fat inside your turducken since you’ll already have the skin of both the duck and the chicken.
*Don’t ever trust the plastic pop-up timer lodged in the turkey breast. It could very easily be broken. Use a meat thermometer and slow roast the turducken until it’s about 165ºF in the center.
*Save all of the bones! They make for an excellent stock which you can use for the gravy.
It was obvious from Chef Rudi’s demonstration that the turducken is quite the project. Despite the many hours of preparation and cooking, it didn’t stop the crowd, myself included, from gobbling up all of the two turduckens. As for the taste, I have to admit that it wasn’t quite what I expected. While the stuffing soaked up the delicious juices from the birds, the meat lost some of its moisture. Nonetheless, I walked away knowing more about preparing all three birds, whether separately or assembled into one giant roast.