Tuesday, December 28, 2010


For the past few years, one of my friends and I have tried, every year around New Years, to out-do our previous gluttonous experiences. Last year, we re-created the taco from the "Taco Town" SNL commercial all the way up until they wrap it in a crepe. Fine dining it was not, but delicious it most certainly was. For several years though, we'd wanted to get a turducken, but for some reason, we hadn't worked up the courage to actually get one.

So this year, after throwing the idea around for what seemed like forever, I actually ordered a Turducken. I don't know what finally convinced me to, but I wasn't going to let another food opportunity like this pass me by. I did my research online and decided to order from cajungrocer.com. They seemed to get good reviews, and better yet, they were having a sale. I couldn't pass this opportunity up. It was like fate had magically intervened. I ordered it.

Three days later, the package arrived, and I put the bird -- pardon me, birds -- into the fridge to thaw. The package said for every five pounds of bird, it needed one day to thaw. The Turducken weighed about fifteen pounds total and was going to be eaten in three days. Again, perfect.

Finally, the big day came. The turducken came with complete cooking instructions -- basically, you put it in a roasting pan, cover it with tinfoil, and put it in a 325-degree oven. For the last hour, you remove the foil so the outside can get that nice brown color. You can't cook it at a higher temperature, because then the outside of the bird will dry out before the inside gets a chance to properly cook. You're supposed to take the turducken out of the oven when the middle reaches 165 degrees. The whole thing is should take 4.5 hours, or so the packaging said. I put the bird(s) in the oven at 1:45PM in anticipation of eating around 7.

Fast forward to 7:00PM and the turducken was still in the oven. Thanks to my handy meat thermometer, I knew that the temperature was still somewhere in the 140s and slowly rising. I took the foil off to let the outside brown, and watched intently as the thermometer rose, degree by degree. By the time it was at 160, a small crowd had gathered in front of it, cheering and exchanging high fives every time the temperature went up. Finally, shortly after 8PM, we hit the magic number. Among much jubilation, I removed the turducken from the oven.

After waiting 20-25 minutes for the bird(s) to cool, I started carving. The inside looked beautiful. Like a work of art. It smelled delicious. And then the moment of truth. I took a bite....

And I was upset. Incredibly upset. Because at that moment, I realized that I had spent 25 years of my life without turducken. Until that moment, it seemed insignificant. But now, I knew better.

Each bird was delicious. The stuffing was even more awesome. And the side of bacon-cheese-mashed potatoes that I made from scratch was pretty damn good too, if I do say so myself.

In all, I give the turducken experience a 9 out of 10. The only things keeping it from being a perfect 10 were the extended cooking time and that it was incredibly difficult to carve neatly -- although with a little bit of mess, I was able to get the job done. But since neither of those things affected the overall taste, there's no way to give it anything lower than that.

So if you've never had one, you should find an excuse. Gather your friends, have everyone chip in a few bucks, and then you can stuff your faces with several different types of bird. And I highly recommend going with the cornbread stuffing. Cooked inside the bird, it turns into this juicy cornbread paste-type thing, in a good sort of way. When the 13 of us were done eating, this is all that was left:

Two legs, two wings, and assorted scraps. Yes, it was that good. And if I could give one word of advice, it would be to make sure everyone knows to be patient. Allow yourself much more time than you think you'll need to cook it. The packaging said 4.5 should do the trick -- I ended up taking the turducken out of my oven a little more than 6 hours after I'd put it in, and it was cooked perfectly. In other words, it was well worth the extra hour-and-a-half to make sure we didn't get salmonella.

So in all, the great turducken experiment was a resounding success. And even though I've now checked turducken off my list of life eating experiences, it's definitely something I'll be doing again.

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