In the two years previous (1998-1999), an X-treme BBQ, held outside regardless of the weather on Super Bowl Sunday, has proved to be wildly popular among graduate students in the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The highlights of X-treme BBQ I included lots of steak, and cooking bacon-wrapped steak, chicken, pork, and whatever else we could get our hands on. At X-treme BBQ II, Chris Boozer smoked a turkey inside a BBQ grill.
For X-treme BBQ III, it was realized that the event had to be taken up another notch. It was decided by the members of the BBQ Executive committee to commit to creating a turducken, a Frankensteinian creature few people had heard of, and no one had any experience creating.
Despite this, the committee decided to meet the challenge head-on. Invites went out by email and via an invitation website for the January 30, 2000 event. About 40 people showed up to witness the first successful (and salmonella-free!) Colorado Turducken, which turned out to be delicious. The third annual Super Bowl Sunday X-treme BBQ was an unqualified success
Since the turducken would be a memorable objet de fete, why not turn it into an objet d'art as well? Ideas ran the gamut from sticking a couple of trout out of the sides, to creating an arachnid appearance with snow crab legs. In the end, we opted for something simple:
The finished turducken was dressed with a vest of spare ribs, a bacon bow tie, and a bacon belt with a working eggplant belt buckle.
What is a Turducken?
A turducken consists of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. Here is Paul Prudhomme's recipe. We actually based our recipe on Prudhomme's original (and unillustrated) recipe that differs from this current version in some minor ways.
The turducken was a hefty beast indeed. We didn't have a bathroom scale to weigh it (and probably wouldn't want to even if we did), but we estimate the final concoction to be above 30 lbs. before cooking. The bone-on weights for the three fowls were 30 lbs. for the turkey, 8 lbs. for the duck, and 4 lbs. for the chicken.
Although the feast would be on Sunday, planning was begun more than a week before, with the first step in the process (preparing stock) done four days before, on Wednesday. More than half a dozen people were involved in the various stages of the recipe. The birds were deboned and assembled into the massive amalgam over a five hour period on Saturday. The completed turducken went into the oven, set to 190 F (88 C), at 9pm Saturday night, and was taken out on noon on Sunday. Because of a delay in preparing the gravy, the ceremonial First Slice did not occur until about 2:15pm.
Other Foods (Mostly Meat):
We exhorted our guests not to bring anything else to cook if they were meat-eaters, but to provide side dishes (like vegetables!) to share. Unfortunately the single non-turducken related side that appeared that day was a forlorn looking bean/corn dish that sat alone and unwanted for much of the afternoon. It appeared that the meat eaters were present in force and they weren't to be satisfied by anything less than cooked animal flesh.
Luckily we also prepared back-up steak and spare ribs, in addition to the mighty turducken. The appetizer meat, divvied up into large chunks, kept the crowd at bay while the main course was waited on.
Turducken/BBQ Executive Committee:
- Ka Chun Yu, Barbecue Executive Officer
- Chris Boozer, Master Chef and Administrator
- Jason Tumlinson, Chief Cooking Officer and MC
- Aaron Lewis, Miscellaneous Meat Detail
- Kamran Sahami, Turkey Chief, Festooner, and Official Photographer
- Amanda Sickafoose, Auxiliary Chef
- Matt Beasley, Auxiliary Chef
- Beth White, Gravy Director
- Erin Chylinski, Kitchen Supervisor
- Marc Derosa, Good Will Grand Pooh Bah
For those who are strong-of-heart and have ironclad stomachs to boot, proceed onward to the Illustrated Turducken Recipe!