Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tur-duck-en Round 4

After 4 years of making turducken during the holidays, I have decided on a change for next year - pinwheel. 

When you read the recipes from Paula Deen and Paul Prudhomme, they are nearly identical.  One factor in both is leaving the skin on the chicken and the duck.  Year 1 I did this.  What a lesson in duck skin that was.  I had not cooked duck prior to that and decided to not make the same mistake next time.  If you are unaware, duck skin is about half an inch of pure fat and tough if not cooked until crisp.

Year 2 I scored the duck skin with hatch marks and seared it in a pan with Chinese seasonings.  I rendered a large amount of the fat from the skin, as well as used a different stuffing (Asian scented) to mix it up a little and highlight the duck.  That was a huge success by guests reviews, but the layer of skin is still not something that does well cooking inside like that.

Year 3 I de-skinned both interior birds and made serious efforts to keep their original shape.  Deboning 3 birds is hard enough, keeping the shape of the two inside when you are putting it together is a whole new challenge without skin.  No complaints from those eating, but I noticed not every slice had all 3 birds because of the movement.  Still went with multiple stuffings for flare.

Year 4 we lucked out and had a larger chicken and duck, but our turkey was a shade smaller than normal.  Again, deboned AND de-skinned.  I decided on one amazing stuffing rather than multiple styles.  I went back and rendered the duck skin after it was removed, this time using the rendered fat to baste the extra stuffing that I had in a separate pan.  The crunch and flavor from that was over the top tasty.  With larger interior birds, there was less stuffing between layers, making nice cross-slices of all 3 meats, it was the perfect storm of Tur-duck-en-ism.  Guests were taking photos and eating 2nds and 3rds.  We have a winner.  The only problem:  it was a nightmare getting the smaller turkey bound up underneath with the larger poultry inside.  That's where this new plan was formed.

I love stuffed meats.  Whether it's stuffed pork chops, chicken cordon bleu, or even a braciole, a well executed stuffed meat is a culinary treat - like opening a gift.  Appropriate this time of year, right?  So the decision is simple, debone and de-skin all 3.  Filet out for a uniform thickness, stuff, wrap, stuff, wrap, etc.  In the end, it will be like the meat lovers jelly roll.  Chicken center (maybe stuffed with a surprise like a mushroom ragu, the stuffing layer between the chicken and duck can be exotic to compliment the duck (wild rice or cous cous stuffing perhaps) and then a conventional sausage and sage stuffing between the duck and turkey.  Easy presentation, easy slicing, easy rolling.

Normal prep for a tur-duck-en is 3 hours.  I have it down to 1 1/2 hours, so adding a little challenge in style points should not be a holiday burden.  I might even do this for a Sunday dinner sometime soon for fun - test runs taste good too.