“You boy, what day is this?” cries a finestral voice. If the urge to retort: “Why it’s Christmas Day, sir!” is insuppressible and instantaneous, you may just be the sort who takes the festive season seriously enough to warrant the creation of a Christmas feast without equal. Luckily for you, the Gourmand is just as committed, and so this week we are proud to present a centrepiece for your Christmas (or Oxmas, though if you manage to pull this off in a student kitchen I’ll be mighty impressed) lunch sure to cause gasps, exclamations and even the odd fainting spell – for which, incidentally, it serves as the best sal volatile.
The confounding dilemma with which we are presented every year is age-old: what is the single most impressive beast I can slaughter and cook for my hungry guests? The ubiquitous turkey? The old-fashioned goose? A nice joint of prime rib? The answer: throw off the shackles of singularity and embrace your inner Dr. Frankenstein. An ungodly combination is the only way forward, so without further ado, the Gourmand proudly presents…the Turducken. The Turducken is a creature (sadly) not found in nature, though its existence scrapes the mythical, as some claim that it roamed the earth with such beasts as the Lernean Hydra and the ferocious Minotaur. These days, however, its construction is left to us mere mortals, who take our inspiration from the hallowed ‘Russian Doll roast’ of Tudor times, comprising a concentric sexdecuple of birds.
To assemble this sacrelicious delight, first seek out one large turkey, one medium-sized duck and one small chicken. You will additionally need the ingredients for your favourite stuffing to act as the structural glue/Polyfilla (mine was ground beef-based) as well as a well-stocked spice rack and a set of good knives for disembowelling the birds, both essential to any kitchen.
This is the part which puts to the test both your mettle and your metal. Bone the turkey, leaving only the legs and wings with bones intact, and lay it flat and open (but in one piece). Proceed then to do the same to the duck and chicken, this time removing all bones as well as legs and wings, to be cooked separately. Season the turkey’s interior surface with salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, rosemary etc., then apply your (precooked) stuffing/meat glue in order to hold the next layer: duck. Repeat seasoning and gluing with the next two birds.
Prepare a tough needle with a length of clean thread and have a companion fold up the now triple-layered monster to resemble one of God’s own creatures. Sew up the split well enough to ensure maximum structural integrity, being sure to stuff any last crack which may have thus far escaped your gluttonous creative hand. Lay upon a bed of sliced onions, garnish with strips of streaky bacon for good measure and refrigerate.
I distinctly remember rousing myself out of bed at 5am last Christmas in order to put the monstrosity in the oven. It needs a hell of a lot of cooking to penetrate the deepest layers of what can only be described as a Dantescan inferno of meat – though the result, rest assured, is pure carnivorous heaven. Though it varies, around 8 hours is considered the standard cooking time for a Turducken, though be sure to keep it breast-side down to ensure moist meat, only turning it for the last hour for a lusciously gilded breast.
At last, it’s done! Only the best trimmings are fit to accompany your creation, so rustle up your fluffiest roast potatoes, your most exquisite sprouts (see The Gourmand’s Guide to Getting Your Five-A-Day), a glut of sweet potato and be sure to reduce and enrich the Turducken’s gravy with the customary copious lashings of red wine. The thing carves beautifully, right through the breast, and will surely impress your diners.
Piggy Christmas to all and to all a good bite!