Turkey’s Inner Duck (And Chicken)

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Turducken-the ultimate carnivore's delight
Turducken-the ultimate carnivore’s delight

Thanksgiving is a holiday meant for gorging on the joys of the harvest season and getting as close to a food-induced comatose state as possible. And then gorging some more.
Many meats have crossed the dinner table throughout Thanksgiving history. Aside from the obvious turkey, there have been hams, roasts beef, pork and salmon, cornish game hens, ducks and chickens. Some households choose one of these meats as the main course, some choose multiple options—but one enterprising American stepped forward to create a mythical amalgamation of meats; the turducken, a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken
A popular misconception is that a turducken is made with a whole chicken stuffed inside of a whole duck, which is then stuffed inside of a whole turkey. The truth is, the duck and the chicken must be de-boned, and the turkey semi de-boned. The boneless bird suits are layered on top of one another, with the in between cavities filled with various styles of stuffing, as well as proprietary seasonings. The entire tri-bird is then rolled up, tied securely and roasted for a handful of hours, depending on the size of the bird(s).
Taste-wise, by all accounts, the flavors of the three birds compliment each other nicely. The juices of the fatty duck add moisture to the naturally drier turkey, and the chicken adds a mild roasted flavor at the center. As for a drink pairing for your turducken, a strong, dark flavor is needed to stand up to the savory assault of the mega-bird. Consider a pinot noir wine or a strong, dark, Belgian ale. Not recommended: a pinotalerum, which is a pinot, stuffed in an ale, stuffed in rum.

Prepared turduckens at Big Daddy’s
Prepared turduckens at Big Daddy’s

No one knows for sure who invented the turducken, some say it was created by legendary Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme, others inexplicably credit football analyst John Madden for its popularization. But the bird beast’s origin story is perhaps not quite as important as its painstaking preparation and its Long Island availability.
But rather than suffer through the construction, two popular Cajun restaurants on Long Island are offering to build the bird abomination for your Thanksgiving mega-feast. Big Daddy’s, 1 Park Lane in Massapequa (516-799-8877), boasts a boneless turducken, as well as the more traditional variety.

Big Daddy’s chef Craig Bedell with his turkducken assembly line
Big Daddy’s chef Craig Bedell with his turkducken assembly line

Tommy Kurtz, manager at Big Daddy’s, said the restaurant started selling the item about eight years ago and it is as popular as ever.
“We had six orders placed today alone,” said Kurtz. “On Thanksgiving eve, our chef will have his assembly line set up and make at least 40 at a time.”

Big Daddy’s chef Craig Bedell slow smokes his turducken over hickory and apple woods and stuffs it with layers of andouille sausage and cornbread stuffings.
“He’s got it down to a science,” said Kurtz. “When you add duck fat to the traditional turkey, it’s amazing.”

Another Long Island spot to place a turducken order is Biscuits & Barbeque, 106 E. Second St in Mineola (516-493-9797). Biscuits offers a 22 to 24 pound whole turkey, with a de-boned chicken and duck layered inside with apple sage, andouille and cornbread stuffings.
“It is labor intensive,” said Joan Gallo, owner of Biscuits & Barbeque, who noted that the restaurant will make about six or eight turduckens to go and a couple of dozen for serving at the restaurant, which will be open on Thanksgiving day. “We’ll do it through the weekend after Thanksgiving and maybe on and off through Christmas, but then we’re done until next year.”

Both restaurants encourage customers to order their turduckens sooner rather than later, in order to ensure securing a turducken for your Thanksgiving spread.

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