Thursday, November 22, 2018

Bacon-Wrapped Turducken

     Every Thanksgiving, I cook a small Turducken. Even a small one is good-sized -- four and a half pounds of turkey, duck, chicken, stuffing and sausage. Typically 30 to 45 minutes per pound at 350, which is a long time in the rarely-used oven--

      The weather was supposed to be clear and not too cold, so I looked into the idea of charcoal grilling in my closed-top grill instead. It turns out that this is a thing people do. You use indirect heat, which means there's no fire directly under the pan; and you do use a pan. Many people that had tried it, liked it. I bought some disposable foil pans, and made sure there was still some charcoal left.

      This morning, I emptied the grill's grate (saving the big lumps of charcoal for reuse), cleaned the grill bars, and pondered what to do. The turducken has a kind of stretch cord netting around it to hold it together, and it's always awkward taking it off afterward. Tam and I had a nice morning walk and stopped by the grocer's to see if they were open. They were. So I bought extra bacon. Who needs a net when you've got smoked pork?

     It worked!
      Here's how it went: Back home, I started the grill with a little pyramid of six fatwood sticks filled by two pages of newsprint, a loose cairn of lump charcoal piled over it. It was larger than usual and I used a couple of matches to light the newsprint in several places.

      Once the flames had slowed down, I closed the lid (vents open) and went inside, where I wove a 4x3 mat of bacon, un-netted the turducken and laid it on top of the bacon. Then I wove another bacon mat on top of the turducken, pinned it in place with several toothpicks, then went around the circumference, bending the lower mat up and pinning under to the top one and to the meat. I added a few more toothpicks for good measure. Went back outside, spread the glowing coals to the sides, added some soaked hickory chips to them, set the grill bars in place and put the pan in the middle with an oven thermometer next to it. Closed it up, set Alexa to time an hour and did other things.
An hour later, the back yard smelled wonderful and the pan was sizzling. Checked the thermometer -- 340°F, though you lose heat fast with the lid up -- dropped in some small pieces of charcoal and more smoking chips, and set timers for one hour and two and a quarter.

      After another hour (and more charcoal and smoking chips), I made skin-on mashed potatoes and oyster mushroom/bacon gravy (fry a few strips of bacon, set it aside, saute oyster mushrooms in the bacon fat, set them aside and drain liquid from them back into the pan, then make a roux with the mushroom-flavored bacon grease and once it's cooked medium-brown, add water to make gravy. Add back mushrooms and as much of the bacon as you like. Other than a little pepper on the bacon, it needs no seasoning). I prepped asparagus for sauteing and the last timer went off.
Outside, a meat thermometer told me the turducken was done. The bacon was nicely browned and the pan held lots of drippings (next year, I'll add a small cookie rack inside the pan). I added some of the more interesting stuff from the drippings to the gravy and sauteed "popcorn" asparagus while the turducken rested on a cutting board. The asparagus takes less than five minutes, then it was time to take a taste and load up plates.
            The gravy and potatoes were great (if I do say so myself). Popcorn asparagus is always good, The turducken was ambrosial! Moist and flavorful. Sure, it's utterly crazy -- but it worked.


Monty James said...

Happy Thanksgiving.

JayNola said...

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!!

Roberta X said...

And a happy Thanksgiving to you!

Anonymous said...

So you are a world class engineer AND world class cook. I gain weight just reading about all the yummy food you cook.

Roberta X said...

Thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing!! How long will you be eating those wonderful leftovers?


Roberta X said...

It was only 4.5 pounds, so not too long. The turducken I buy is mostly turkey, duck and chicken *breast,* not entire birds.

Anonymous said...

Does that come in Vegan?