I have not done a lot of cooking over the years ( probably only roasted two chickens in my life!), so my plan to make turducken this Christmas was perhaps a little ambitious. In my usual way, I threw myself enthusiastically into the project, ordered the birds, read up about the process and sharpened my knives. I practised boning a couple of chickens a week ago and the second one was good enough, so I kept it in the freezer for the big day. Christmas eve and the serious boning began. I started with the duck as it’s appearance isn’t as important as the turkey. One badly sliced thumb later (yes, that knife is sharp) the duck was done and it was turkey time. The turkey, being larger, was probably easier than the chicken or duck, and went quite well. I then decided to put a couple of quail inside the chicken, and the quail were quite fiddly to bone because of their size. Finally, after a couple of hours it was all done and the carcases were frozen to use for making stock later. The butcher I bought the turkey and duck off had offered to do the boning for me but I wanted to do the whole thing. Several times during the evening I regretted that decision. As you can see, my turkey didn’t look elegant, but it was boneless and all in one piece.
I thought it would take about 5-6 hours to cook this masterpiece, so I was up at 4am Christmas morning to complete the prep. and get it in the oven. As I had never made stuffing before, I used it from a packet (sorry, I’ll do better next time). So, I layed out the turkey, spread a layer of stuffing, put the duck on, added more stuffing, then the chicken, stuffing and finally the two quail to end up with this great ugly pile of meat.
The next part of the process was probably the most difficult, particularly on my own. I had to roll the beast up and sew the turkey back together. Using skewers to initially hold it in place, I finally managed to get it sewn together, but when I turned it over, there were a couple of places where the skin had split, and these required a few stitches as well. I also ran string around the bird to help it hold it’s shape (no skeleton to do that, remember).
So it looked a bit rough and unprofessional, but not bad for a first effort, I thought.
Christmas day in Queensland is notoriously hot, not the day you want the oven on for 5 hours, so the bird (birds) were put into the kettle BBQ on the verandah, and cooking began at 5-15am, and I enjoyed a glass of apple cider. I needed to slow cook this, but the BBQ wouldn’t go below about 180°c. Finally after about 5 hours the meat thermometer showed an internal temperature of 165°c so the turkey was taken out and rested. On the outside it looked good! (but I wish I’d removed the strings and stitches before taking the photo- live and learn)
So after 45 mins resting (the turkey, not me, I had potatoes to cook), it was crunch time, and I very nervously cut into my masterpiece:
Cooked to perfection! And to eat, this is awesome. The flavour combinations of the different birds are great together, the turkey was very moist, probably from the duck, and even the packet stuffing tasted good. Would I do it all again, yes, but not for a while. And what would I do differently? The quail were pretty much lost in the mix, I’d either leave them out or put a few more in. And I’d use less stuffing and not from a packet (I’ll have to find a couple of good stuffing recipes). And maybe a bigger turkey so fitting it all together was easier (this was only a 4kg bird). All up, the cooked product weighed in at just under 8 kgs, so I’ll be enjoying this for a few days yet.