Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Magic of the Turducken

When Warren first approached me with the idea of cooking a Turducken for Christmas, I laughed and thought What the F--- is Turducken? I assumed it was some bizarre Turkey concoction along the lines of Tofurkey.

"It's something I read about in National Geographic," he said.

"Oh so it's fancypants food," I remarked.

I was right. Here's a nice description of the Turducken from Black Table:

"[T]he road to Turducken is not a short one. The dish isn't found on many take-out menus, isn't sold in the frozen foods section at the local supermarket and must be made at home, for the most part. The entire process will take you two full days, leave you covered in blood and guts and cost more than $100. This turducken is the ultimate test of the primal desire to feed, requiring baking, boiling, broiling, butchering, sauteeing, chopping, stirring, sifting and even sewing, but once you're seated with a plate and fork you will understand."

This is the sort of dish that Warren lives for--extremely complicated, time-consuming, and delciious.

"Do you think your family will like it?" he asked, smirking.

My family is pretty particular about turkey. On Thanksgiving we often have 2-3 turkeys because no one likes it the same way. Ditto on the stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce. We missed the annual Turkey Wars this year by going to California.

Clearly, Warren is suffering from Turkey War withdrawal.

"They might," I said.

Several phone calls ensued in which, being the official family peacemaker, I was able to work out a deal where Warren made Turducken and all the accoutrements while my older sister made box spaghetti and salad for the fearful.

Warren sweetened the deal by informing me that our friendly neighborhood Schmucks (that's Schnucks to you) sells Turduckens. I was glad that I wouldn't have to witness the blood and guts or assist with any cramming of one animal into another.

We spent Christmas Eve day going from Schmucks to Schmucks to Schmucks looking for a Turducken. Apparently they were flying out of the freezer sections across town. Who are these Turducken eaters? I wondered.

Black Table noted that (believe it or not) Turducken is one of the many items tackled by members of International Federation of Competitive Eating. Maybe there's a Turducken eating contest somewhere! I thought excitedly.

I was already feeling the magic of the Turducken.

I called my friend Dave, who is present at all family gatherings, to tell him the good news. "Warren is making Turducken," I said. "Don't eat anything until you get to Leslie's house tomorrow," I instructed.

"Oink," he replied happily.

On Christmas Eve we all gathered at my mom's house. She had mixed up some appletinis and I partook of several right away. With a nice buzz going, I announced to everyone, "Listen, if you don't like your gifts tonight (we traditionally open presents on Christmas Eve) just remember that you are all getting your real gift tomorrow. The gift of Turducken. Feel the magic."

They laughed and remarked how they hadn't seen "Drunk Stacey" in awhile, then went on to present opening. Everyone was instructed to not to go crazy with the spending this year, but there were still a ton of presents to open.

I gave everyone carefully selected rocks from the various California beaches we visited. The idea being, to keep the rocks somewhere handy and stack them in different configurations as a form of relaxtion. (A friend gave me some rocks from the Maine coast as a wedding present and I LOVE them.) When presented with a bag of rocks, most of my family members seemed less than thrilled. My mom, however, did seem excited once I started marketing the bag of rocks as a Zen Rock Garden.

Satchel's prayers were answered in the form of a Megazord he had been pining for for months. The Megazord, for those of you not in the know, is a transformer type thing composed of four or five different Power Rangers. Constructing the Megazord is no easy feat. Warren spent most of the night carefully studying the instructions. Jiro surprisingly entertained himself with a very babyish Elmo phone, more for the Elmo factor than the technology factor, I think.

On Christmas day, we mostly hung out at the house. Satchel and Jiro stuffed themselves with M&Ms (compliments of Santa), Warren cooked the Turducken and massive amounts of yams and stuffing, and I put away gifts and folded laundry and whatnot.

"Is the Turducken ready?" Satchel asked every hour or so. His excitement was palpable. I have to admit the house smelled pretty damn yummy. The dogs nearly died when we loaded up the massive beast(s) and went my sister's house.

I'd say my family was split down the middle in terms of excitement. People were either REALLY excited or really just not excited. I, for one, was excited. As Warren cut into the beast(s) I was hovering over his shoulder with the camera, ready to capture the many-layers of meat and stuffing in all of their glory.

The Turducken was rather tasty, and depending on what layer you were tackling, a little spicy. Despite our best efforts, the twelve of us (eight adults and four children) were barely able to make a dent in the sixteen pound Turducken. (That's sixteen pounds of pure meat people, no bones in the beast, except two tiny wingtips for looks.)

Warren had two comments.

"Maybe I should have gotten the half-Turducken instead."

and then...

"Maybe I'll make the Turducken from scratch next year."

I believe the magic of the Turducken will be with us for many years to come. (And all the days between as the bulk of the remains are in my freezer.)

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