05 January 2009

Benito vs. the Turducken

For years the turducken has been something of a white whale among the men in my family. A dish we all wanted to try, but just never got around to preparing. After all, 30 lbs. of boneless poultry and stuffing will feed a lot of people, and it's a little odd to take over an entire Thanksgiving with a carnivorous feast that combines the excesses of pre-revolutionary France with a NASCAR tailgate party.

However, while looking through the "weird meats" section of the Schnuck's freezer (a larger-than-average percentage of my grocery shopping), I found a four pound turducken breast roll from Cajun Stuff. My brother John, friend Paul and I had a guys' night coming up, and this seemed like the perfect main course.

While four pounds is definitely a more manageable size, and this little turducken tasted great, I was disappointed with the amount of duck meat included. In fact, if I were making one from scratch I might double up on the duck and incorporate chicken hearts and livers into the already meaty Cajun sausage stuffing. A more classically trained chef than I might make a terrine or galantine using similar ingredients.

My New Year's Eve wine (the sparkling Segura Viudas) ended up getting consumed with this meal, both on its own and in the form pictured, a Nelson's Blood* Cocktail: one part Port to four parts sparkling wine. You don't necessarily want to use expensive versions of either ingredient for this, but it's fun if you've got the materials on hand. It ended up reminding me of a Brachetto d'Acqui from Italy.

John provided the side dishes--grilled yellow squash and zucchini and a bowl of mashed potatoes kicked up with bacon, gorgonzola, cream cheese, garlic and other flavorings. Good job there, little brother.

Cigars and Port followed dinner during a viewing of Escanaba in da Moonlight, a great independent film from Jeff Daniels about a night in deer camp on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

*Nelson's Blood is also a nickname for Pusser's Rum, the former daily ration of the Royal Navy. When Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson defeated both the Spanish and French fleets at Trafalgar, he was mortally wounded and his body placed in a cask of rum to preserve it until burial back on the scepter'd isle. Some sailors on board the HMS Victory purportedly drank from the cask.


Michael Hughes said...

That cocktail sounds delicious.

Samantha Dugan said...

Seems like a fitting feast for a "man day"...well some may scoff at the pink drink but real dudes drink pink is my motto!

I was trying to think what I would pair with that, (having never tasted Turducken) and keeping in mind the Cajun seasoning that is often used I was thinking either Beaujolais or Brachetto...how was the cocktail with the food?

Benito said...


The cocktail is an excellent use of leftover Port--that mostly-empty bottle of Ruby that's gathering dust in the back of the cabinet.


Turducken faces the same matching problems that Thanksgiving does: there's just too much going on. Here the big issue is the savory sausage stuffing. I'd want a Tempranillo with that, a Cru Beaujolais with the duck, and a buttery Chardonnay with the turkey. Somehow a Cava-Port cocktail worked well.

If I had to do it again, I think beer would have been a better match. Maybe a mixed sixer of Abita to be region authentic.

hesslei said...

A turducken is a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The thoracic cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are stuffed, sometimes with a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird.