Turducken Lovin'

America has harbored an infatuation with the Turducken since John Madden mentioned it in a Thanksgiving Day broadcast several years back. The mere idea of a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken brings carnivores to their knees, thanking God, Charlton Heston, and their lucky stars that someone made their dream a reality. The turducken has achieved a strange level of immortality in our imaginary culinary pantheon, despite that fact that most people have never tried one (for shame!). Much like the state of Texas, itself, the turducken is an NRA dream and a PETA nightmare.

Turduckens have been a Cajun delicacy since 1985, when Hebert's Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, begin marketing the creation at the behest of a local farmer. The invention, itself, is genius -- the self-contained juices seep through the interior, leaving it moist and meaty, no basting required. We think the turducken's true brilliance lies in the stuffing, though, which generously protects and encases each layer of meat. The stuffing adds the carb factor we love so, soaking up the surplus meat juice and steaming to perfection inside the packed cavity. There's a stuffing for every mood: spicy jalapeño-cornbread, subdued pecan-rice, original sausage-cornbread, and Cajun crawfish-rice, to name but a few.

You could attempt to make this bad boy from scratch, but be prepared to put in a full day of battle to show those birds who's boss. You could also buy a premade version. The price tag may seem outrageous at first glance, but pound-for-pound, they're rather economical. Hebert's sells its regular-size original turducken (with sausage and cornbread stuffing) for $67, and we got ours at Rice Epicurean for $69, but both versions are plenty of food for 8-10 people, if not 10-12. Just add a simple salad, and your meal is divinely complete for about $10 a head.

Was it everything we ever dreamed of, and more? Pretty much. After all, it's a great dinner, plus a built-in conversation piece. Why not wrap it in bacon? Come on, even we have limits.

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Ruthie Johnson
Contact: Ruthie Johnson