Turducken is the ultimate stuffed entree. It's a stuffed chicken stuffed into a stuffed duck stuffed into a stuffed turkey. The turducken originated in Louisiana and rose in popularity when football broadcaster John Madden ate one on air. Today, turduckens can be purchased at many grocery store chains and online. They are popular for Thanksgiving meals, and in Louisiana, they are also a hit on New Year's Day and Super Bowl Sunday, too.
Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme and Hebert's Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, both take credit for creating the turducken, though no one knows for sure who had the idea first. Regardless, both agree that the dish has been around for at least 25 years in Louisiana. It hit the national stage when John Madden started talking about them during Thanksgiving Day football game broadcasts in the mid-1990s. Year after year, until 2008, Madden talked turduckens every Thanksgiving and even gave them to winning football teams.
How It Is Made
All three birds are deboned, then each is stuffed with a different dressing. Chef Paul Prodhomme's recipe, considered a classic, calls for shrimp dressing in the chicken, andouille sausage dressing in the duck and cornbread stuffing in the turkey. Once the birds are stuffed, they are stuffed into each other.
How to Cook
Cooking the turducken can be difficult because not only does each bird have to be cooked to the correct temperature, the stuffing inside also has to be cooked correctly. Chef Paul Prodhomme recommends cooking at 225 degrees F for about 8 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. The New York Times recommends a temperature of 250 degrees F for at least 4 hours at then turning up to 375 until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. Cook's Illustrated had to cook its test turduckens for 7 1/2 to 8 hours at 325 degrees F to get the internal temperature to 165 degrees F.
Store-bought Turducken Safety
The USDA lays out safe handling procedures for store-bought turducken. If you buy a turducken, refrigerate it withing two hours of purchase or one hour in warmer climates. If the turducken is delivered by mail, be sure it arrives frozen and put it the freezer right away. If it is thawed, do not use it.
Home-assembled Turducken Safe Handling
The USDA also recommends safe-handling procedures for assembling turducken at home. While deboning the birds, be sure to keep the meat and juices away from other foods and make sure each bird and its stuffing are not out of the refrigerator for more than two hours, shorter if the kitchen is warm. Be sure to pack the stuffing loosely so that heat can permeate and cook the dressing. Sanitize all surfaces and cutting boards after contact with the poultry.