Shhhh. Be vewy, vewy, quiet. We’re on the trail of the Turducken, a mysterious beast that haunts the wilds of South Louisiana. It’s a hard thing to track, partly because it’s not one, but three beings that form a symbiotic parasitic relationship. First, we have the Swamp Chicken. It feeds on nothing but live crawfish, raw rice and, when it can catch it, the even-more elusive six-legged Boudin, whose chirps and squeals can be heard on rainy Louisiana nights. Next, the Ground Duck. The Ground Duck hides in its lair for months at a time, waiting for the right moment when a Swamp Chicken walks by. Then it pounces. What follows is a revolting battle as the Ground Duck distends its beak far enough to swallow the Swamp Chicken whole. The job done, it lies there defenseless, much like a boa constrictor digesting a pig. And along comes the rarely seen Pelican Turkey, which simply makes a “Gobble-gobble” noise before scooping the new formed Duck Chicken with its impressive mandibles.
Or, you know, the alternate explanation is someone takes a partially deboned chicken, shoves it in a partially deboned duck and sticks that into a partially deboned turkey and then you have a Turducken.
Turduckens take on a starring motivational role in one of the very last chapters I added to The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. They’re mentioned in passing and end up leading to a sort of arms-race, but with food stuffed inside other food rather than weapons. It was actually a chapter I had a lot of fun writing, partly because it’s so silly and fun and partly because it’s almost guaranteed to make a hard-core vegan throw down the book and run for the bathroom to puke. Which, you know, small pleasures and all.
As for me, I will not be eating a Turducken for Thanksgiving. In my experience, Turduckens are much better in theory than they are in reality. The stuffing’s all mushy, the thing falls apart when you cut into it, and the three birds all taste kind of weird. It’s a waste of a good duck if you ask me.
Well, that and I’ll be in New Jersey with the in-laws, scarfing down old-fashioned oven-baked turkey and all the traditional sides. And probably some Thai dishes. Oh, and pork roast.
The fact of the matter is Thai people love pork and aren’t that crazy about turkey. Because they know better.
And, if we all looked deep within our hearts, we’d realize we’re not crazy about turkey either. It’s big and mostly white meat. And white meat is just lame. And even the dark meat of the turkey has those weird, throat-gouging ligaments or tendons or whatever. Of course, there are two good things about turkey: 1) the skin and 2) the leftovers and all those mayo-drenched sandwiches they’ll be stuffed into.
But those of us born and raised in America have been force-fed this turkey tradition and it would be sort of embarrassing to admit that the culinary centerpiece of this entire holiday is a total sham.
Which is probably why people in Louisiana have devoted so much time and effort to improving upon the turkey experience. The family back home will likely be chowing down on deep-fried turkey, the best possible way to eat the bird. The hot oil seals in what juices the turkey has and forms a crispy salty crust, much like pork cracklins, on the outside. And for those of you rightfully worried that frying a turkey may a) set your home on fire, b) set a loved one on fire, c) set you on fire or d) raise your cholesterol level, there is another alternative. It’s the Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-less Turkey Fryer. It uses infrared heat (or something) to give you the experience of a fried turkey without the mess and dangers. Even if you’re dumb enough to chuck a frozen turkey into this thing, it will not send a flaming geyser of scalding oil shooting twenty feet up into the air.
At any rate, however you decide to enjoy your turkey this year, have a Happy Thanksgiving.