Turducken: Where Does It Come From?

The unnatural trio of turkey, duck, and chicken might initially make your stomach curl, but the supposed supernatural taste of the turducken might just appease the staunchest of food critics. This chicken in a duck in a turkey has become a nationwide phenomenon in the past decade – so much so that NFL commentator John Madden awards a turducken to the winning team of the Thanksgiving Day game (usually the Detroit Lions versus the Dallas Cowboys). Just this year, though, Madden announced he would be returning to the traditional turkey for Thanksgivings henceforth.

The unlikely combination of birds actually makes for a nice blend of dark and white, dry and juicy meats. Preparing and cooking the perfect turducken takes at least ten hours. Start by deboning all the birds and preparing a cornbread and sausage stuffing. Basically, the turkey is laid flat and spread with a layer of stuffing. The duck is placed on top of the turkey (add another layer of stuffing), and the chicken (with leftover stuffing inside) is placed on top of the duck. Carefully wrap the turkey as you normally would and cook as usual. The advantage of turducken is that everything is edible, and you don’t have to work around the bones. Just dig in and enjoy the mixture of tastes.

So, when did the turducken come to be? And where does it come from? Turducken is strictly American fare, as nowhere else in the world would someone even think to combine these three distinctly tasting birds into one Thanksgiving feast. This tri-bird can be traced back to the Deep South – likely somewhere in Louisiana – some time in the early to mid 1980’s. Despite not being able to deep fry it as you would chicken, duck, or turkey separately, the turducken seems to come from a Cajun tradition. Some people credit Cajun-creole fusion chef Paul Prudhomme with creating the dish as part of the Duvall Days Festival in Duvall, Washington in 1983. However, Calvin Trillin in the November 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine traces the turducken’s origins to Maurice, Louisiana, where “Hebert’s Specialty Meats” has been commercially producing turduckens since 1985. The company still prepares around 5,000 turduckens per week during the holiday season.

Tofurkey-loving vegetarians might just be appalled at the pounds of meat that make up the turducken, but families across the nation are still cheering for this great new holiday staple.