Thursday, November 22, 2007

The turducken and variations thereon 

As is customary, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Virginia with local relatives on both sides of the family. Since nobody -- other than me -- wanted to discuss whether the press coverage of the "surge" has been fair, we talked about food. My brother and co-blogger, Charlottesvillain, who is something of a foodie, brought the conversation around to the "turducken." That led to some minor controversy around the correct preparation of same, so I rendered a dramatic reading of the apparently authoritative Wikipedia entry on the subject. Read the whole thing for good Thanksgiving dinner trivia, but the best part relates to wider genre:

In addition to the aforementioned chuckey, some enthusiasts have taken it a step further, and come up with the turduckencorpheail. This is a standard turducken, which is then stuffed with a cornish game hen, which is then stuffed with a pheasant, and finally stuffed with a quail. Still others have pushed the envelope even further with the turgooponducheasanishuail, which includes both a goose and capon, in addition to the component birds of the turduckencorpheail. In recent years, another version called the turgooponducheasnishuaichuffguihagaga has been growing in popularity. It has all the properties of the previous two versions listed, but also includes beef, pork, lamb, and frog. The turduckencorpheail, turgooponducheasanishuail, and the turgooponducheasnishuaichuffguihagaga are not for the faint of heart; both are extremely time consuming endeavors, as birds of the proper size must first be obtained, and then prepared; removing extremely fragile bones from a bird such as a quail without breaking the skin is impossible for most.

Chef Paul Prudhomme brought renewed popularity to the Osturduckencorpheail with his own Osturduckencorpheail recipe. There is a similar dish in South Africa called the Osturducken, an ostrich stuffed with turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken.

Some barbecue aficionados have been known to enclose a turducken in a whole hog, and slow-smoke or pit roast it for large gatherings or festivals. Kansas City Pitmaster "Schedule Peter" Pookie Thornhill was credited in 2006 with the invention of the turdbutt, a pork shoulder (or Boston butt), inside a duck, inside a turkey. A further variant is the gurducken, where the external bird is a goose, which is stuffed with a turkey, then a duck, then a chicken. Some chefs "dress up" their turduckens, adding a vest of baby back ribs and/or a bowtie of bacon. The Turducken has also inspired variations, such as the hotchken. A hotchken, known as "the poor man's turducken," is a chicken stuffed with hotdogs.

In the UK the Turducken is commonly known as a three-bird roast. English chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall expanded this into a ten-bird roast (a turgoduckmaguikenantidgeonck - turkey, goose, duck, mallard, guineafowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, woodcock).

The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the 19th century: a bustergophechiduckneaealcockidgeoverwingailusharkolanbler (originally called a RĂ´ti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal") - 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. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species.

A (possibly apocryphal) dish of camel stuffed with animal and plant foods in layers is whole stuffed camel.

Turgooponducheasnishuaichuffguihagaga "has been growing in popularity"? Who knew that?


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