Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 27 - That's too turducken hard

Ever had turducken? For that matter, do you even know what one is?

Well, first, a turducken is a deboned chicken, usually stuffed with cornbread, sausage, rice, and beans; stuffed inside a deboned duck; stuffed inside a deboned turkey; rubbed with spices, then smoked, or roasted until fully cooked.

My god that sounds good doesn't it?

It is. No question... Man, they're good...

... BUT ...

They are WAY too much damn work.

It takes about 8 hours just to prep one to cook it; and that presumes you're an expert in gloving a bird (that's a technique of deboning, without cutting through the bird, thus leaving a whole bird with no skeleton) which takes some degree of knife skills and practice.

Then of course once it's prepped and stuffed; you have to actually cook the damn thing; until it hits 160 degrees all the way through into the stuffing; which can take 8 hours...


No, I don't think so, thanks for calling.

Of course, the... popularizers lets say (They got John Madden to shill for them on air at football games)... of the turducken recognize that most home cooks don't want to go through that much work; so they sell pre-prepped and par cooked then frozen birds, that they ship to you via fed-ex.

For about $100...

Again, no thanks bubba... or I guess in this case Boudreaux, since it IS a Cajun thing.

Oh and in case anyone thinks this is just some redneck excess; the technique actually dates back to the middle ages, where stuffing meats with other meats or surprising ingredients, was a common "fancy" for the very wealthy. This culminated in the 18th century French (always noted for their excess) "rotil sans pareil" (roast without equal); which featured 17 different birds, from a small songbird, up to a giant bustard; stuffed inside one another.

Now, for those of you who want to do the "real thing", I cannot recommend highly enough that you buy my friend Steves book "Eat What You Want and Die Like A MAN"; not just for the turducken, but also for... well, everything else really; especially for the delicious delicious snark that goes along with all the spectacular food.

In fact, buy it even if you don't like turducken... hell, buy it even if you don't like FOOD. You can live on the meaty snark alone.

However, if, like me, you are too busy (or too lazy) to spend 16 hours preparing just one bird (well... three birds technically, but still) there is another way.

My way... the kitchen cheaters way... the REAL mans way.

Alright, let's do this thing.

Ok, first things first, lets break down what goes into the dish, so we can work on it in pieces.
1. da meat
2. seasonings
3. cornbread stuffing
4. rice and beans
The Meats

1 large full skin on, breast of turkey (both sides, as big as possible)
1 large full skin on, duck breast (both sides, as big as possible)
1 large full skin on, chicken breast (both sides, as big as possible)
1lb smoked and peppered bacon
1lb andouille sausage

Simple Spice Rub

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup medium ground black pepper
2 tblsp ground hot mustard
2 tblsp garlic powder
2 tblsp cayenne powder
2 tblsp smoked paprika
2 tblsp chipotle powder
1 tblsp onion powder
1 tblsp celery salt
1 tblsp cumin
1 tblsp ground fennel
1 tblsp dried thyme
1 tblsp dried oregano

Herb Rub

8 tblsp fresh sage, finely chopped
4 tblsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
4 tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 tblsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
4 tblsp fresh basil, finely chopped
4 tblsp fresh marjoram, finely chopped

Trinity and a Bit (optional)

2 clove garlic, crushed and minced (optional)
2 mild chili peppers, finely chopped (optional)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped (optional)
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1 rib of celery, finely chopped (optional)

Cornbread Stuffing

1lb stale cornbread (home made with bacon grease please)
1/2 lb bacon, made into bacon bits
1/2 of the crisped poultry skin (see below)
1/2-1 cup turkey stock
6 tblsp bacon grease
4 tblsp herb rub
4 tblsp spice rub

Rice and Beans

1 cup wild rice, or basmati rice
1 cup red or black beans
3 cups turkey stock
1 lb sliced and lightly fried andouille sausage
1/2lb bacon made into bacon bits
1/2 of the crisped poultry skin (see below)
2 tblsp herb rub
4 tblsp spice rub
6 tblsp of bacon grease

Ok, first, since we're making beans; you're going to want to soak them overnight in cool water; with maybe a little bit of salt and a little bit of vinegar in it (some people don't bother with a brine and just use plain water).

Also, you're going to want to make your cornbread the day before (home made, with bacon grease please), and leave it out all day and overnight to get stale.

I'm not going to teach you to make cornbread here. I've done that in other recipes, and there are about a million recipes out there; just use whichever one you like... Or hell, use Steves, it's pretty good.

If it's too humid to get fully stale where you live, leave it out anyway, then before you go to make your stuffing, stick it in a 200 degree oven until it's nice and stale. You can also use this trick to make the cornbread in the morning, and the stuffing in the evening; but it needs a few hours off the heat to air out.

On the day, you're going to want to get the seasonings prepped first, because we're going to use them throughout the dish. In this case I'm going to cheat even more; because the basic spice rub I'm using here is the same as my smoking spice rub (I've just scaled it down here), and the herb rub is my standard thanksgiving turkey herb rub scaled up a bit, with parsley added (cuz it's Cajun cooking I tell true).

Well, why not? They're really good in other dishes, who says you need to make up all new stuff for another dish?

Now if you want to be a bit more Cajun about this thing, or if you just like the flavors for that matter, you're gonna want to make up a bit of trinity. Trinity is the foundation of most Cajun sauces etc... and consists of about equal portions of diced onion, diced bell pepper, and diced celery.

I also like to add a little garlic, and chili pepper to my trinity, for a bit of extra kick. If I was doing this for myself, I'd actually just leave out the trinity entirely, and stick with the garlic and chili pepper; but I'm allergic to onions, and don't like celery (except in stocks).

Anyway, chop it up, mix it up, and keep it off to the side.

Next up, we're going to dice up our bacon, and slice our andouille into bite sized pieces.

Also at this point, we're going to want to peel the skin and fat off our duck and chicken breasts; and slice the skin into thin strips.

In a large, deep walled sauté pan or skillet (a skillet has curved sides, a sauté pan has straight sides. I prefer a sauté pan for this.) crisp up the bacon and render out the fat; then pull the bacon out and keep it off to the side, covered (to soften them up a bit)

Then, VERY LIGHTLY fry the sausage in the bacon fat, rendering out a little more of that lovely lovely porkfat and blending the sausage and bacon flavors; and reserve the sausage off to the side, covered, to keep them from drying out.

You don't want the sausage fully cooked here, just nicely starting to brown up on the outside; and remember it will keep cooking when you pull it out.

Now take your poultry skin, and drop it into the hot frying grease. If you can get some extra duck fat add that in too. Fry up the skins until very crispy, and reserve them off to the side, uncovered (or they'll get soggy).

Now pour off the rendered fats, reserving them off to the side.

Ok, at this point you've got a good two hours worth of work in, and you've got to be thinking to yourself "this is the EASY version?"

Yes, yes it is. This version takes maybe 3 hours of prep, the real thing takes about 8. You're lucky I took out the part about making a pate with the livers, cremini mushrooms, and a duck and turkey leg confit.

Next on to the stuffing.

An important thing to note; this isn't quite like a normal turkey stuffing. You want to keep the cornbread relatively dry here, because you're going to be crumbling it up.

So, take your fat, sauté up your trinity, then deglaze the pan with the turkey stock. Crumble up the corn bread completely (into very fine crumbles or even crumbs) into a good sized bowl, add the herbs and spices and mix them in completely. Then, evenly pour the pan mixture into the bread, mixing it up as you go.

What you want here is lots of small crumbles, mixed completely with the fatty flavorful liquid, and the herbs and spices. It's important to use a large bowl so that things don't clump up. This is also why we're only using a half cup of liquid to a pound of bread.

Now, take the stuffing, and spread it out into a thin layer on a sheet pan, to rest. Sprinkle half the bacon bits, and half the poultry cracklins over the top; and move on to the rice and beans.

Drain and wash your beans, then drain again and pat them dry.

Again, take some of your fat, and that same big sauté pan, and get some high heat going in there.

Sauté your wild rice to the point just before the lighter grains are really "browned"; then throw in the trinity and sweat it a bit. You may need to add a bit more fat depending on your rice.

Toss in your beans, and sauté them a little bit as well. Finally, throw in the sausage, the herb mixture, the spice mixture, and toss throughly over the heat; before pouring in the turkey stock.

You should simmer the rice until the moisture is just about fully absorbed. It's important to note, I used a relatively low amount of liquid here, because we don't want the rice to be completely done yet. It should still be somewhat firm when you take it off the heat.

Were done with the pan now, so you can leave the rice off to the side, uncovered, to rest. Sprinkle the remaining half of the bacon bits and poultry cracklins over the top of it.

I should note, if you couldn't find skin on breasts, that's OK. You can do without the cracklins, the dish is just better with them (and with the flavorful fat as well).

And remember, this is the EASY version.

Now we get to the actual meat; and this is where things start to get tricky.

First thing you're going to need is either a ton of extra heavy duty plastic film; or some very large plastic sandwich bags, slit open along the sides to make sheets.

What were going to be doing, is pounding out the poultry breasts between two layers of wetted plastic, and we're going to do each separately so you can't reuse the same plastic over again. In fact we're going to need that plastic to help us position and roll and stuff the "bird".

So, take your full turkey breast (that's both halves of a full breast; hopefully still connected in the center, hopefully with the skin on), lube the bottom layer of plastic (water works, but you may want to use pam or something similar, or even just olive oil) then lay the breast on it skin down. Lube the top sheet and cover; then POUND THE EVER LIVING HELL out of the turkey breast, until you get it as thin as you possibly can, without punching through it.

Ahhhhh, there now, wasn't that cathartic?

Next pull off the top layer of plastic, and lightly dust the turkey meat with the herb rub, and the spice rub. Then, evenly spread a thin dusting of VERY FINE CRUMBLES of the cornbread stuffing. Were talking light snow on a parking lot here folks; or maybe "dandruff on a black shirt"; not "covered with cornbread". Also, very important, keep the edges of the turkey clear back about 2" or so on all sides.

Once that's done, you're going to repeat the exact same process with the other two meats (except we've already taken the sin off of them to make cracklins).

Once we have our thin layers, with a light dusting of cornbread stuffing on top of each; it's time to combine them. This is where your preplanning and lubrication of the plastic sheets pays off.

Now, there's two ways to arrange these layers. You can either center the layers on top of each other (like nested Russian dolls), and then when you roll the thing up, you roll straight on; or you can index them all to one corner, and roll on the bias, like a croissant.

Either one works; neither makes a HUGE difference as to how the bird cooks, they look a little different... but really it's a matter of personal preference, and how regular a shape you were able to pound the meat into.

Ok, so now you have three distinct layers of poultry, with flavorful breadcrumbs in between; we're going to finish it off by covering with plastic one more time, and we're going to GENTLY pound them together this time. I say again GENTLY. We're just trying to make them stick real good; not pound them into mixed bird pate.

Almost done here folks... and yes, I'm serious, this really is the easy version.

Now we're going to toss the rice around the bowl to loosen it up, and mix in the cracklins and bacon bits. Then, form the rice into a loose "log", either a couple inches in from the edge of the meat straight roll, or a couple inches in from the corner for a diagonal roll (obviously, placed at a 45 degree angle so that the "log" becomes the axis of the roll).

The rice "log should be no more than about 2 inches thick, and it should extend to about 4" from each end of the meat.

If there is any cornbread stuffing left, scatter it around the sheet of poultry, but don't get any closer than about 2" from the edges.

Finally, we're going to tightly cover the rice log with a flap of meat, and then VERY TIGHTLY roll the whole thing up, using the plastic sheeting as an aid.

Once a tight roll is formed we're going to tuck in, or tuck under (depending on how long and thick they are), the ends of the roll; and truss tie the whole thing (look it up online. It's what you do to lamb roasts and the like, and it's not hard).

Once it's trussed up, rub the whole thing with butter, and the herb mixture; then sprinkle the spice rub over it (all of the above, on all sides).

Now, take some more of your fat, heat it up in the biggest damn skillet you can find; and we're going to sear off this bad boy on all sides.

Now at this point you have a choice. You can smoke the thing, which is AMAZING, but takes for frikken ever (About 2 hours per pound); you can roast it at around 325-350 (which takes about a half hour per pound); or you can wrap it up tightly in a double layer of foil, and deep fry it from the outside in, which only takes about 15 minutes per pound.

Any way you do it, you have GOT to get to an internal temperature of AT LEAST 140 degrees all the way through (and once you hit that temp you have to stay there for at least 10 minutes); and 160 is what the health nazis recommend.

How many does this serve? Well that all depends on how big the breasts you got were. I can't imagine it serving less than 4, 6 is probably reasonable, and it could probably stretch to serving 8.

And be sure to check out:
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 26 - Hot Smoke
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 25 - That's a Spicy Polpette
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 24 - It's Meat, in Loaf Form
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 23 - Some Like it Hot
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 22 - Full Fat, Full Dairy, All Killer, No Filler
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 21 - Forget About the Dough Boy
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 20 - QDCBS (Quick and Dirty Chili Bean Stew)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 19 - Chicken Salmonella
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 18 - I'll give YOU a good stuffing turkey (1)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 17 - REAL Coffee
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 16 - DTG (Damn That's Good) dip
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 15 - More Chocolate Than Cookie
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 13 - Mels 10,000 Calorie Butter Cookies
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew