As the Fourth of July approaches, it's time once again time start planning how to celebrate our nation's freedom. For a backyard barbeque with twist, consider serving a turducken with red, white and blue stuffings. A turducken is simply a turkey that is stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken. This dish has become a popular favorite that is served for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Although turduckens are traditionally baked in the oven, cook this one on the grill to keep with the spirit of the Fourth and summertime barbeques. Follow the recipe below to prepare your own Fourth of July Turducken at home.
Red, White and Blue Turducken
What you'll need:
20 - 25 lb. whole turkey, deboned with wings and legs still intact.
5 - 6 lb. whole duckling, deboned
3 - 4 lb. whole chicken, deboned
Poultry seasoning blend
Cranberry Stuffing (recipe listed below)
Pork Stuffing (recipe listed below)
Blue Cornbread Stuffing (recipe listed below)
Cotton thread and a large needle
Have the birds deboned by your butcher to save yourself quite a bit of time, but if you're a particularly adventurous cook you can do it yourself. Professional Cutlery Direct at www.cutlery.com provides step by step instructions for deboning poultry. Just be sure to keep the wings and legs on the turkey, that way the finished turducken will still look like a turkey.
It's best to prepare each stuffing ahead of time so that they have time to cool before you are ready to assemble your turducken. A basic stuffing recipe is listed below, and it can easily be adapted for any flavor that you choose.
1 batch of cornbread crumbled (recipe listed below)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
Poultry seasoning, salt and black pepper (add according to taste)
Butter or olive oil for sautéing vegetables
Sauté celery, onion, and bell pepper until soft. Season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Add crumbled cornbread to vegetables and mix. Pour chicken broth into mixture until it reaches the desired consistency. Adjust seasoning and cool before stuffing bird.
For Cranberry Stuffing
Double the recipe and add 2 cups of frozen cranberries (thawed)
Double the recipe, but substitute 1 loaf of French bread (cubed) for the cornbread. Also, add 1 lb. ground pork or pork sausage (removed from casing) and brown in skillet after vegetables are soft.
Blue Cornbread Stuffing
Follow the basic recipe and be sure use cornbread made with blue cornmeal.
Basic Cornbread Recipe
1 cup cornmeal (use yellow for cranberry stuffing and blue for blue cornbread stuffing)
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
In combine all ingredients until blended. Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9 pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 400˚ oven.
Assembling the Turducken
Begin by placing the turkey skin side down and seasoning it well with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Then spread the cranberry stuffing over the turkey. Next, place the duck on top of the cranberry stuffing and spread the pork stuffing over it. You will then place the chicken on top of the pork stuffing and add the blue cornbread stuffing. Each stuffing layer should be approximately ½ inch thick. Any leftover stuffing can be placed in casserole dishes and baked at 350˚F for approximately 30 minutes.
Once you've stuffed each bird, fold the sides of the turkey together to close the bird. Enlist someone to help hold the turkey closed as you begin to sew up the opening. The stitches should be spaced about 1 inch apart. You finish sewing the Turducken tie the legs together, just above the tip bones. Be sure to place the Turducken breast side up while cooking.
Once the turducken is assembled, place the turducken on aluminum foil or in an aluminum pan, and then cook on a 350˚F grill or smoker. Alternatively, you can place the turducken in a large roasting pan and cook in a 325˚F preheated oven.
Regardless of which method you choose to use you should cook the bird until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest area on the bundle reaches an internal temperature reaches 180 ˚F (165 ˚F is the minimum temperature for cooking poultry, but 180 ˚F will ensure that the turducken is fully cooked all the way through). The USDA recommends that a stuffed turkey of this size will generally take 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours to cook, but your best bet is to rely on the meat thermometer.
If you find that all the preparation needed to make your own turducken is a bit overwhelming, consider purchasing a ready made turducken from CajunGrocer. The CajunGrocer Turducken is a favorite amongst Louisianans, and it was voted best turducken by The Wall Street Journal and was featured on The Food TV Network. Although the red, white and blue themed Turducken is not yet available for purchase, your guests will enjoy any of the available varieties of this delicious stuffed dish.
Elizabeth Catalanotto is a contributing writer for CajunGrocer , Louisiana’s premier online food store offering a wide selection of Cajun and Creole products including turduckens , andouille, alligator meat and more.