My first introduction to the turducken was through legendary football coach and commentator John Madden. After Thanksgiving football games he used to hand out legs of a turducken to the players who had the best games. I always thought it was just a made up food creation, but it turns out there’s actually an interesting history that goes along with it.
For those who aren’t aware, and honestly why would you be, a turducken is a de-boned chicken stuffed inside a de-boned duck that itself is stuffed inside a deboned turkey. In between each bird is a layer of breadcrumb stuffing. The entire bird(s) is then cooked just like a regular turkey (but longer, obviously). It’s the perfect meal for people who are as hungry as they are indecisive.
History is unclear about who exactly invented the turducken. While we may never know the name of the culinary Dr. Frankenstein who dreamed it up, we do know that the turducken was made popular by creole Chef Paul Prudhomme and most likely originated in specialty meat stores in Louisiana, a scene perfect for meat experimentation.
Although it seems like a novel idea, the tradition of putting birds inside of other birds goes back pretty far. The most impressive historical example is the rôti sans pareil, or ‘roast without equal,’ which was made in 1807 by Grimod de La Renière for a royal feast. It consisted of a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting, and a garden warbler. It’s a shame the Guinness Book Of World Records wasn’t around back then.
Turduckens aren’t the only stuffed bird creations, though. There are plenty of other animal mash-ups that have been gaining popularity. See if you can tell which of these are real and which are made up.
Gooducken – Goose, duck, chicken.
Quaduckant – Quail, duck, pheasant.
Turdoinken – Traditional turducken inside a pig.
Cowken – Chicken inside a cow.
Chickow – Much harder. A cow inside a chicken.
Double Chicken – Chicken inside a chicken.
Turkizza – Pizza inside a turkey.