Monday, November 23, 2009

I SMOKED my TURDUCKEN (TURkey stuffed by a DUCK, stuffed by a chickEN)

If you have not read yesterday's post, take a second and click HERE to get to the post and read it first. Last night was my real Thanksgiving meal contribution, 13 people, 9 side dishes to prepare and one gigantic hunk of meat! The day was a challenge filled with stories - 1 dish that I flat out ran out of time to prepare, 8 success stories, one good but slightly disappointing dish and one HUGE disaster. Keep coming back over the next few days and I will fill you in on all of these...

Here's the final plating... A slice of TurDuckEn, an INCREDIBLE Anadama Roll, A Sweet Potato Boat stuffed with Cajun Corn Bread Casserole and a Buttermilk/Pom sausage savory Bread Pudding. Again, keep coming back, you may want to alter your Christmas Dinner plans with a few of these recipes. But today, I am gonna tell you all the story of my Turducken...

First, a little advertising... The very good folks at CAJUNGROCER.COM were generous enough to offer me a Turdukcen to try for the holidays. They have a wonderful history of being VERY nice to bloggers throughout the years, and this year, I was selected to receive the birds! They have a fabulous website, you can reach by clicking HERE. Once there, you will find an amazing assortment of New Orleans/Cajun/ Louisiana specialty sauces, rubs, spices, snacks, gifts, fresh food and prepared mixes.. AND MUCH MORE! A huge thanks to these good folks for making me the star of the neighborhood.

Couple of pages worth noting on their website,they advertise, "Our shipping rates are the lowest when it comes to shipping perishable foods.". And, they have a wonderful recipe page. click on one of these, and you will be taken to some wonderful Cajun/Creole recipes, each category has several recipes...
And now... On to the Turducken!

My birds arrived very well packaged. frozen solid, in it's own shipping cooler. I have heard in a refrigerator, it takes 3o minutes per pound to thaw a bird. BUT, the Turducken is solid meat (Only bones are aesthetic, they leave in the drumsticks and wings of the Turkey). The rest is almost all meat (with a layer of stuffing in between). The bird was advertised 15 pounds, but actually weighed in at 23 pounds. At the end of the first day, it was still frozen solid. So, back to the fridge, and a few phone calls, and the bird was thawed in three days. But that was a good thing, as it gave me time to research how to cook this monster. The Cajun Grocer cooking instructions are pretty specific. BUT, they only provide roasting instructions. They do not include any smoking instructions. I was able to find a couple people who had smoked their birds. So, after comparing a few result websites...

Here's what I decided to do...

First, I am going to inject a marinade. Turkey, especially breast meat is notorious for drying out during long cook sessions. Duck, is notoriously oily and chicken breast meat is equally likely to dry out (although being on the inside, unlikely unless I overcook the Turkey. I decided to only inject the turkey and chicken (as much as possible with out a fluoroscope) just under the surface for the turkey, injecting deep to reach the chicken and . I used a Cajun Injector, with a Cajun spiced butter and turkey stock marinade.

Just a man pumping his meat full of fluids!

And here she is all pumped full of juices, and on the smoker. I tented in foil to prevent the skin from getting too black.

OK, I did indeed smoke this, but only in the smoke sense. I was using my smoker as an oven, so that I had my kitchen free to cook. SO, instead of low and slow, because there was stuffing in the bird, I wanted to get my cooking temperatures up to speed higher. With a double loud of coal, and all the dampers open full steam. I know my smoker, I got the temps up to 325 easy, and with a little more air flow added, I could get to 375. So, I settled on the easy to maintain 325 and walked away. At this heat, I would need to monitor the temps often. I never dipped below 325, and only once climbed to 360 for no more than 15 minutes. The cooking instructions is for 350 for 5 hours, but also stress the internal temperature of 165. I estimated the bird would be done at the 6 hour mark. During the first 2 hours of smoking, I added some Hickory chunks to the coal to get a little bit more flavor in the birds.

During the first 5 hours, despite nearly peeing my pants in anticipation, I never opened the smoker to check the bird (in my smoker, I can add coal in a separate chamber). Opening the smoker only loses heat, and once you are confident in your smoker's thermometer, there is no need.

I started checking temps at 5 hours. Here she is at 5 hours. Internal was about 150. I was right where I figured to be at this point. I thought the color looked just a shimmy light, so I left the foil tent off during the last hour of cooking...

And here she is fresh off the smoker. It is always a good idea to let the meat sit for a bit. I was pretty close to on schedule, so I let everyone ohhhhhh and awwwww over the looks of the old gal while I served appetizers...

Son-in-Law Eggs, you will be hearing about these soon...

Grandma Sally's Marinated Mushrooms, And you will certainly be hearing about these soon...

A simple but very tasty cream cheese with raspberry chipotle sauce.

And finally, we all enjoyed a cup of mulled wine (that made the house smell very festive, like a Dicken's story come to life). I'll be adding this to my "plans to blog" list soon as well...

After a half hour, everyone was feeling Mary (I decided to name the birds Mary), and due to the mulled wine and several additional opened bottles of wine, they were feeling merry as well. Mary had only dropped a couple degrees. By waiting for 30 minutes, I allowed the internal temperatures to even out, and more importantly, the juices all settled into the fibers of the meat. If you cut into a turkey fresh from the oven, the juices will run out of the meat and not stay in the meat. Even after a nearly one hour wait from smoker to first slice, the meat still steamed when plated.

And here is what she looked like cut...

The verdict... Just as good as you can imagine, all the meat was perfectly cooked, the stuffing had a pork accent, and was very good as well. juicy and very filling.

And the final verdict, the question you all want to know... Was it worth the price. First of all, let me remind you, I got Mary free. If you order a turducken from The Cajun Grocer, the cost would be between $80 and $85 dollars. Or about $5 a pound. BUT, since the birds are almost ALL MEAT, no wasted weight with the carcass. You also get the stuffing included in the birds. So saves you on the cost of the side dish. Making my estimated comparison to be about double the usual cost of a (not on sale) turkey (or a store cooked turkey... who buys those???), and equal to the cost of a duck.

So, is it worth the extra cost... You bet, and here is the main reason...

We had a ball. the neighborhood came out, our Friends drove in, all because of the uniqueness of the evening. Had I advertised a pre-Thanksgiving meal with all the trimming, serving a turkey as the only meat... Well, I for one would almost view it as an unwanted distraction during the pre-holiday frenzy (clean the house for guests, plan the menu, shop, pack for travel, arrange for dog sitters, etc., etc. and even more etc.), as well as being... redundant. Most of us will be having turkey in just a few days. But everyone came wanting something unique, and came to have a good time... we did, all thanks to Mary, my Cajun Grocer TURDUCKEN!

If any of you want to try to za za zing up your next holiday, if you want something to look forward to, or for your in-laws to have something entertaining when they come... I recommend a turducken. But, if you are bound by the tyranny of traditionalism during the holiday, how about a ham on Christmas and a turducken on Christmas eve. They are incredibly easy to cook (toss in the oven as directed, wait, wait, wait, check the temp, wait, check the temp, wait and serve). And you will be the talk of the family for years...

Everyone should consider a turducken!

Remember that beautiful kitchen tour I gave on ... Kitchen Reveal Day??? Many of us that participated that day made a commitment to show what the place looks like at zero hour on a heavy cook day (like Thanksgiving). Well, 13 salad plates, 13 main plates, 13 dessert plates, 13 mugs for the mulled wine, 20 plus wine glasses (some had white and red), silverware, pots, pans, serving dishes... This picture was the cleanest part of my kitchen (just for fun, double click on the picture to enlarge and get a better look at the carnage I inflicted on this poor innocent room)!

But with the proper encouragement, you can get your favorite neighbors to lend a hand and get a start at getting the place back in shape.

Only 3 more days til the real Thanksgiving!


  1. Wow, everything looks amazing, I would kill for a Turducken,I have heard there is nothing like it!

  2. You have moxie, my friend. I'm really impressed. I don't know that I have the courage to attempt something like this. Kudos - big time :-).

  3. Looks incredible! Never seen a turducken around here. Sure would like to try one someday.

  4. Way to go Dave. The turducken looks great and I am totally impressed by all you accomplished. Love the mess in the kitchen. I will show mine on Thursday.

  5. Those turduckens from the Cajun Grocer are simply fantastic. I've made a few of them over the years, but never for a holiday. And, I've never made them in the oven - always on the smoker. It just seems more appropriate somehow.

    Nice job my friend.

  6. I cannot believe this. This is not a story of one day! It seems to be it...well I am out of vocab here :)

    The birdie looks GORGEOUS. I can never manage a bird..nor more than 4 people. So I always go with teeny tiny turkey breasts. This one requires courage.

    BTW the mess in the kitchen is gorgeous too :)

  7. Everything looks great! I've always wanted to try a turducken. I think next time I'll za za za zing over to your place for dinner!
    I'm so glad to hear the evening was a success! :-)

  8. Thank god it wasn't the turducken that was the disaster. As long as the main meat course rocks, anything else is secondary :) Nice job!

  9. Wow...just Wow!
    I'm thinking a wild game dinner from Cabela's for Christmas...or where ever I can find an elk and a bison roast!
    The alligator from Cajun Grocer is excellent also, BTW.

  10. Ive said it before and Il say it again, I want to live in your neighborhood.

  11. Glad your dinner went so well...all that planning really pays off. Your Turducken looks delicious, so golden, and I bet the aroma was mouthwatering!

  12. You already know that your cooking is fabulous, but I don't think I ever told you that I just fell in love with your chicken plate and I adore how it randomly shows up holding the goods !
    By the way, never had duck in my life. Can you tell it's tasting different ? That is, IF it's tasting any different from chicken.

  13. I'm disappointed that Donna didn't jump all over the "just a man pumping his meat full of fluids". She must have been mesmerized by the beauty of the main course! I have seen them on different cooking shows, but only my honey likes duck. I know we have to special order them out here in the sticks. How do you think it would deep fry? Dude loves to deep fry out on the deck!

  14. Wowza! That is awesome...way too pricey for me...but super cool to see and dream about ;) Great job!! Happy Turkey Day :)

  15. congrats on your successful dinner party! It sounds like you guys had a great time. That Turducken looks amazing. Awe-inspiring actually. You got a really great color on it.

    I anticipate my kitchen getting to be just that messy as I prepare for the big day. Thankfully, I am buying a bottle of bourbon for a cheesecake I am making. The cheesecake only calls for about 4 tbsp. And I just won't be able to let the rest of the bottle go to waste...

    Also, I LOVE Frank Sinatra. Grew up on old blue eyes. Good stuff :D

  16. I applaud you for this! WOW! Turducken should be listed on Wikipedia. Looking forward to reading about your SIL eggs. You did awesome!!!


  17. That turducken is so interesting and I;m anxious to visit their website. Sounds like a great find. I have those same reindeer plates from Pottery Barn. LOVE the photo of the neighbor helping! I want to hear about those eggs. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm moving to your neighborhood.

  18. I got a 17lb. Butterball turkey for $11 bucks with coupon... I've smoked all those birds, but not all at once!

  19. Wow, Dave, you have done Cajun Grocer proud! Your Turducken came out great and your dinner party seems to have been a smashing success! Now for the dreaded clean-up!

  20. Thats some feast Dave ! Amazing is an understatement !

  21. My hat is off to you! Our local Harris Teeter carries Terduckens, but I've never tried one. Great job!

  22. holy cow, you rocked the turducken. i am DYING to try one. it looks wonderful, great job!

  23. Awesome job, your turducken is making my mouth water! Everything looks amazing, when can I come over? :)

  24. Dave, truly an outstanding and exceptional effort. Kudos to the cook!

  25. Having 'hand made' a turducken a couple years ago with a friend - i.e, de-boned and assembled it ourselves, I'm going to have to say that price seems pretty darn affordable to me, when you factor all the pain-in-the-ass time it takes to de-bone 3 birds.