Turducken day 1: getting a turkey at the last minute, chef’s treats, and brine

1 Jun

I owe lots of math posts.  I know.  But it’s my birthday (well, it was on Wednesday) so give me some leeway.  My boyfriend got me flowers for it!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Finally a different kind of flour on this blog!

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday, and so I have it for my birthday every year (as in I did it last year and am doing it this year).  Last year I’d never had turducken before but after that experience I decided I’ll do it every year (until I’m sick of it).

If you’re planning on making a turducken for June 1st or Thanksgiving, make sure you plan ahead.  Or do what I did.  Or buy a premade turducken but where’s the fun in that?  The next paragraph is complaining you can skip it I’ll probably edit/shorten it later when I’m not as mad.

I called the store last Sunday around 10 a.m. to order a turkey and duck.  They asked me to call back the next day so the manager could talk to me.  So I called on Monday around 4:20 p.m., and he asked me to call back on Wednesday between 7 and 4 to talk to the manager, and that he’d leave a note for the manager anyway.  At this point I’m in high worry mode and should’ve switched stores, but this is my local grocery store that I shop at every week and I have some cognitive dissonance-type loyalty to it.  I call back on Wednesday and talk to the manager, who tells me he wasn’t in yesterday (Tuesday) before continuing our conversation.  He says he’ll have the birds ready for Friday, and I say I’ll pick up in the evening around 5.

At 5 p.m. on Friday THE DAY BEFORE THE TURDUCKEN he calls me to tell me he didn’t get EITHER the duck or the turkey.  I am FLIPPING OUT but also have to focus on problem solving and I don’t yell at him.  He suggests I call one other Jewel.  I call that one.  This guy is much more apologetic on behalf of Jewel and suggests another Jewel as well as two other stores.  I call the other Jewel, and that guy brainstorms with two other people in the store before concluding they can’t help me.  Chicago’s sky has been looking ominous the whole day so I start biking like crazy to get home before the thunderstorm, and then I stop at this magical store I’ve never been to on the way.



I just want to give Mariano’s a big hug.  They had fresh chicken and frozen turkey, goose, duck, and cornish hens.  I spent a good amount of time munching on their FREE SAMPLES (my favorite thing in grocery stores) and wondering if I should switch my Turducken to a Gooduckhen instead.  We don’t own cars so I was waiting for my boyfriend to come with his bike while I was sipping some acai berry liquor

Anyways, he took the 20 pounds of turkey in his backpack and I took the 5 pound chicken and 6 pound duck in mine and we headed home.  Immediately popped the frozen turkey and duck into a cooler filled with cool water.  Lots of sites will tell you that you can speed thaw with a sink or bucket but you have to change the cool water every half hour.  If you don’t peek at your cooler you should be OK for a few hours (we changed every two or three).  Bacteria is no joke.

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England

I wonder if they do this in Bath, England


The birds.

I’ll do another post about butchering.  This is about all the yummy tidbits on the way!

Basically it’s not worth all the hassle of deboning chicken wings, and unless you really care about those scraps of meat, the same goes for duck wings.  That means you get chef’s treats!  I was in the middle of doing a lot of other stuff so I just slathered the wings in barbecue sauce and threw them into a 375 oven for awhile.  Maybe 45 minutes?  Until they were done and yummy.

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Wings are trying to fly away in the background

Meanwhile I threw the carcasses into a big stock pot with some bay leaves, a carrot remnant from the stuffing, and half an onion.  That just simmered for several hours while I was doing other things.  In particular, there was too much stuffing for the bowl I stored it in overnight, so we got a mini-casserole of sausage-apple stuffing as our second course:

There's not much, but this really is stuffing

There’s not much, but this really is stuffing

We munched on some avocados for a third course, sprinkled with lime and salt, which was a nice transition into our next course: Vietnamese chicken salad.

This photo makes me want to cuke

This photo makes me want to cuke

I used tongs to pull off all the meat from the bones that were simmering (neck, wing tips, ribcage, etc.), which basically melted off.  Then mixed in some cucumbers, thought about shredding in fresh mint and then realized I had none but if you do this add fresh mint and cabbage, and dressed it with lime juice-fish sauce-sugar-water dressing.  Topped off with fresh pepper.  This is delicious, reminds me of my mom, and is super easy and light.

He’d actually taken me to Elizabeth for birthday dinner, so this was like home-Elizabeth with only five courses instead of nine.  Dessert was duck skin crackling with maple syrup.

When butchering a duck you get LOTS of excess skin/fat.  So I decided to render the fat for later use, and this had the happy effect of making crackling!  Cut your duck skin into about one inch pieces (it shrinks when frying) and fry it until light golden brown.  BE CAREFUL THIS SPATTERS A TON

Shielding myself from the spatter

Shielding myself from the spatter

But it is delicious!  I dusted some of them with flour to get a little more crackle, and topped them with maple syrup for dessert.  So tasty!

So that was my chef’s treats from day 1 of making the turducken.  I highly recommend taking two days: butcher all the birds and brine them the night before, and then stuff and roast on day 2.  Today is day 2 and there’ll be more posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a picture of the birds floating in brine that my boyfriend made; I have no idea what’s in it:



One Response to “Turducken day 1: getting a turkey at the last minute, chef’s treats, and brine”


  1. Turducken Day 0: butchery (warning: this post is very bloody) | Baking and Math - August 16, 2013

    […] of the bird (I guess meat manufacturers probably turn the leftovers into sausage or something) with your chef’s treats.  I would love to do some actual butchery someday.  If you are not a meat-eater, and/or are […]

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