Shortly after spending our first Thanksgiving together nearly 50 years ago, I surprised my wife. It wasn’t that she saw me boiling the denuded turkey carcass, but rather that I ignored the resultant stock and was attempting a skeletal reassembly of the bare bones. My passion for bones has only increased since then, a passion that she begrudgingly accepts, especially every November.
Around Thanksgiving dinner tables everywhere, faces should brighten when bone lovers direct the conversation from politics and sports to the rich cultural history of wishbones. (See previous blog post Twelve No-Fail Conversation Starters Regarding Wishbones.) Should that conversation wane, a discussion of transforming a turkey’s wing bones into trumpet-like turkey callers will undoubtedly rouse diners again from tryptophan lethargy. (See previous blog post It Takes a Turkey to Call a Turkey.)
Consider then the horror of having to endure a boneless Thanksgiving. The modern roots of this nightmare originated in the 1980’s, maybe from the kitchen of Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme. The NFL TV commentator John Madden extolled this unusual preparation’s tasty virtues widely during his Thanksgiving Day football broadcasts. Not only have all the bones except from wings and legs been extracted from the turkey, its floppy remains are then stuffed with a completely deboned duck, which has been previously stuffed with a completely deboned chicken. The combo becomes a “turducken”, a compression of the words tur
key duc k chicken. Three fowls down, no wishbones to go.
Before I might campaign for an outright ban of such an osseous sacrilege, I decided to know my enemy and try turducken. YouTube videos describe the required ghastly serial deboning and reassembling, which also involves stuffing any interior voids with cornbread and, according to one’s interest in recreating Cajun authenticity, adding some andouille sausage or crayfish. More interested in the result than the process, I turned to Amazon. Over the next two days, my turducken flew from Louisiana to Los Angeles surrounded by dry ice and Styrofoam.
It took three days to thaw in the fridge. I decided to roast the eleven-pound mass on the barbeque rather than in the oven, which might again risk marital harmony. After about 6 hours at 325oF it was approaching the requisite 165oF in the deepest reaches of the chicken, and another 30 minutes with chimera uncovered brought its skin to a golden brown. My wife and I agreed that it smelled good, perhaps partly because it was now two hours after our usual dinner time.
It sliced like a loaf of bread, far easier than carving a conventional turkey, particularly so because I didn’t have to work the knife carefully around any skeleton, including precious wishbones. The turducken tasted good. Each bite was a separate surprise because, somewhat by sight and certainly by taste, the roasting juices had blurred demarcations between the tur, duc, ken, stuffing, and sausage. But I guess that’s the whole point.
Would I do it again? Yes, but only if the fileted bones came along in a separate packet. Then I could sleep blissfully.