Aroma along with flavor are like magic as they are able to trigger distinct memories by forming strong bonds to specific events. The aroma of roasted turkey and the taste of the tart sweet cranberry sauce, creamy potatoes, and stuffing tossed in the jus of the roasted bird, are quite distinguishable and can bring back emotions, events, and traditions. For me they remind me of cooking Thanksgiving with my sisters and then cooking for good friends while I was in college. Now I am continually reminded of the good memories as I make family meal for my colleagues at the restaurant. This year I decided to try something different, but along the same flavor profile. Turducken.
The word turducken is a combination and morph of the words turkey, duck, and chicken or hen. The idea of the culinary turducken is a dish that stems for centuries in many forms starting from the Roman times and a French/English classic, prepared for the wealthy, of stuffing multiple animals or birds into one another. More recently a Cajun company now produces commercially available turducken, later popularized by John Madden, adding it to the tradition of Thanksgiving for thousands of families.
I decided to refine and update the turducken with modern cooking methods, ingredients, and techniques. One problem with the traditional turducken is controlling the doneness as each “bird” range in weights from 8-16#, boneless. To reduce the size I chose just to use the breasts of each bird. Rather than stuffing one bird into another to form a mixture, in this case one breast into another, I bound the three birds together with the enzyme Activa Transglutaminate(TG) RM in layers. However, when using bonded meats, the properties of each protein, specifically the final cook temperature, must be considered.
1ea turkey tenderloin, cleaned of tendon
1ea chicken breast, skin on
1ea double duck breast, skin on
20g Activa Transglutaminate RM
4 sprigs of thyme
sweet potato puree
snap pease, blanched then sliced
garlic herb focaccia
Each breast cooks at a different temperature: turkey 65C, chicken 63C, and duck 57C. When bonding the meat ,TG is sprinkled between each layer in that same progression. The skin of the chicken and duck are used as the outer-protective layer as well as adding a textural contrast of crisp skin, the best part. Once layered together, the enzyme needs to set in order to form the bonds. The best way to ensure a proper bond, full contact and pressure must be applied for a period of time, 6 hours optimal. Vacuum sealing helps two fold, the layers will have contact with fewer or no air pockets and atmospheric pressure will naturally provide 14 psia.
Rather than scoring the skin of the duck, a steel brissel brush was used to create thousands of mico-holes in the skin to help render the fat out when cooking without creating peaks and valleys causing uneven cooking.
Rewraped and sealed with arromatics, the turducken is cooked sous vide at the target temperature of the duck 57C for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the focaccia, sweet potato puree, and cranberry mostarda.
Assemble the dish. The bird, cranberries, potatoes, and stuffing.
This isn’t what I remembered eating for Thanksgiving, but the flavors, arromas, and reminders of memories are all there. For that I am thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!
What is in it for you?
"You know because the noise of the kitchen, the smell of the kitchen, the voice of the mother or the father, all of that are going to create memories, you know – effective memories which will stay with you for the rest of your life without any question" - Jacques Pepin