Monday, June 10, 2013

TURDUCKEN: The Culinary Equivalent to "ManBearPig"?

Anyone who has read through the Cabela's Holiday Catalog is familiar with the unique amalgamation of poultry called Turducken, which combines Turkey, Duck, and Chicken. When I first spotted this  culinary Frankenstein monster several years ago, I immediately thought of the South Park episodes featuring a supposed Al Gore nemesis named "ManBearPig". The difference between these two is that one can be deadly to humans, and the other is a cartoon character. (Oh, I just cracked myself up there with fifth grade wit!)

Seriously, I like pretty much every kind of cooked bird that I've tasted...even the roasted pheasant that I shot with my Dad and Uncles back in the early 70s which was seasoned liberally with lead pellets. (I had made the cardinal sin of blasting that bird just a few feet in front of my shotgun's muzzle due to my excitement at flushing it only seconds after stepping into the beet field.) Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and stuffing, is my favorite meal of the entire year. So when I learned about the tryptophan-laden combo, which by the way usually contains STUFFING (!), I added that to my gustatory bucket list.

Now while my Spousal Unit rightly accuses me of being prone to making occasional impulse purchases off the internet, the high cost of the Cabela's Turducken...over a hundred bucks...kept me from indulging this particular whim. But as the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait", and so it was last weekend. While cruising the frozen food cabinets at our local Fred Meyer Superstore, (I was looking for frozen Maryland-style crabcakes, as the last time we dined on the ones from the seafood counter I found a big old deceased housefly embedded in mine.), I spotted a half-shoebox sized package emblazoned with "TURDUCKEN". I checked it out with a cynical eye, because finding such a gourmet treasure at a Western Washington Fred Meyer was surely too good to be true. Examining the box's bona-fides, this definitely looked to be the real thing. The next challenge was convincing my Spousal Unit to make room in our shopping cart for this grocery outlier. She is more skeptical of new, untried products than I am, and I think she even muttered something about being suspicious of any product whose first syllable is "Turd". That concern hadn't occurred to me, but she did have a valid point. On the other hand, she tends to be supportive of my adventurous approach to cooking and eating, so once the Spousal Unit realized there weren't any weird ingredients, she assented.

Once committed to a course of action, my Spousal Unit goes all in, so within a couple of nights she had roasted our bowling ball of bird goodness for Saturday Night dinner. While it had been cooked perfectly, and was clearly comprised of good quality poultry, our first Turducken experience was a bit underwhelming. The meat was a bit dry, and very salty. It was more than edible, but not what I had dreamed of. The remaining couple of pounds of Turducken went into a Tupperware container, awaiting its fate. I admit to a lack of enthusiasm for polishing off the leftovers, but then it occurred to me what this Turducken was missing...the STUFFING! This version featured pork sausage in place of traditional bread-based stuffing, which was good for our low-carb diet, but left us wanting.

Tonight, we rectified this omission with a vengeance. We picked up a box of "savory herb" Stovetop Stuffing and a jar of low-sodium turkey gravy at the market, and after dicing up the slabs o'Turducken we had a savory casserole simmering on the stove. This concoction was definitely "much mo' bettah", though just before she dished it up, my Spousal Unit noted we should have included a small side dish of cranberry sauce to make it perfect. She was right again, but despite that minor quibble, we dined happily, knowing the whole Turducken experience had been nicely salvaged.

I'm not sure whether we will ever buy another Turducken, but it doesn't matter. I've crossed that off my bucket list, and will be able to resist the urge to drop a couple of C-Notes with Cabela' least for another Turducken.

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