We Americans think of Thanksgiving when we think of turkey, but the history of Christmas turkey dinner runs much deeper. While the classic American Thanksgiving turkey feast is a relatively modern 19th century contrivance with its myriad revisionist imperialist overtones, turkey dinner at Christmas dates back to at least the early 1500s, during the reign of England’s Henry VIII . However you slice it, I can guarantee that the British royals and the Mayflower pilgrims never once conceived of the sheer magnificence of the seafood turducken. But you can, and you should.
The seafood turducken is an even more monstrous and decadent take on the modern Cajun masterpiece made famous by Chef Paul Prudhomme . For the uninitiated, a turducken is a deboned chicken stuffed in a deboned duck stuffed in a deboned turkey and cooked ad libitum. But because that’s just not enough for this crazy world anymore, I’ve added several seafood species to my turduckens, and you should do the same. You will wind up with a Christmas dinner that is unforgettably, deliciously absurd, something everyone involved will talk about for years no matter the outcome.
And you and your loved ones will have the delightful task of naming your X-mas concoction. Good luck saying “oysturduckenobster” with a straight face.
The challenges of seafood turducken assembly and precision cooking are significant, and they’re not for the faint of heart. Come at it with good humor, plenty of time, a competent butcher (I strongly recommend ordering the birds deboned from a reputable meat market), and a solid plan, and you’ll achieve culinary victory.
This recipe is gluten-free.
- 1 deboned turkey
- 1 deboned duck, trimmed
- 1 deboned chicken
- 2 lobsters, steamed, picked and coarsely chopped
- 12 oysters, shucked
- ½ lb peeled/deveined wild caught USA shrimp
- 1 lb sausage, casings removed
- 1 lb bacon, sliced thick (optional)
- 2 cups wild rice blend, cooked
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 2 sprigs each rosemary & thyme, leaves removed
- 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
- Salt, pepper, & paprika to taste
- 1 cup fancy fruit/savory jam (optional)
- Butcher’s twine & a large sewing needle
Sautee the onions and garlic and set aside. Cook the sausage by breaking it up, stopping just short of done. Combine the onion, garlic, sausage, uncooked shrimp, cooked wild rice, and chicken stock in a large saucepan or pot. Add rosemary, thyme, and sage. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Set the stuffing aside.
- Prepare your turducken assembly space. Lay the turkey skin side down. Cover the flat exposed body cavity with a layer of stuffing. Place 2/3 of the lobster meat and 8 oysters evenly across the stuffing.
- Lay the duck skin side down on top of the turkey and layer of stuffing. Cover the flat exposed body cavity with another layer of stuffing. Place the rest of the lobster meat and the remaining oysters evenly across the stuffing.
- Lay the chicken skin side down on top of the duck/stuffing. Add a couple heaping spoonfuls of stuffing on top of the chicken. [OPTIONAL: place half the jar of jelly on top of the chicken/stuffing.]
- Thread 3 feet of butcher’s twine through the large needle, securing with a large knot. Beginning with the anterior end, suture the turkey together every 2 inches or so. Be sure to run the needle through meat as well as skin to minimize tearing. Assistance will likely be required to bring the two sides of the turkey together for suturing. Bring a sense of humor to this step; think of it as a team building exercise. Be sure someone is filming.
- Carefully place the sutured turducken onto a rack. [OPTIONAL: squeeze the rest of the jelly into whichever interstitial spaces may be available on the highest end of the sutures, allowing gravity to spread it.] Rub salt, pepper, and paprika over the entire turkey as desired. [OPTIONAL: wrap bacon around the turkey in a mesh pattern.]
Place a meat thermometer through the thickest parts of the birds so the probe is in contact with the center of the turducken. Cook the turducken. OVEN: Preheat to 400º. Cook until internal temperature inside the inner layer of birds reaches 135º, approximately 2-3 hours. Reduce oven temperature to 300º. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165º, approximately 1-2 hours. Remove and rest for 10 minutes before carving. PELLET SMOKER: preheat to 300º using an applewood or competition pellet blend. Cook until internal temperature inside the inner layer of birds reaches 135º, approximately 2-4 hours depending on your smoker. Reduce smoker temperature to 175º or LOW setting. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165º, approximately 4 hours. Remove and rest.
- Carve the turducken. Remove sutures just from the portions you are cutting, leaving the remaining stitches intact. Enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime feast.