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The History of the Infamous Thanksgiving Turducken

Thanksgiving Dinner Idea

Americans all over the country will consume more than 46 million turkeys this Thanksgiving. That’s a lot of gobblers. But another nostalgic holiday meal choice is the turducken. What exactly is a turducken you ask? Simply put, it’s a deboned chicken filled with dressing, inside a deboned duck covered with another layer of dressing, inside a deboned turkey that is neatly stitched up and baked.  Modern versions of this dish only have stuffing within the center of the chicken. McGonigle’s Market shares a little history into how this unique festive dish came about and how it’s seeped its way into popular culture today.  


Stuffing MealThe Beginnings of the Turducken

Multi-bird roasts were traditionally served by many different cultures throughout history. Similar dishes have roots in Roman times. The British have served this type of dish since the eighteenth century, called the Yorkshire Christmas pie. It consists of five different types of bird stuffed inside each other which are served in a crust. (“four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.”)


Some historical documents refer to the ancient Romans cooking similar roasts. There was a reference made to Roman cuisine by the Frenchman, Grimod de La Reyniere in a document (Almanac des Gourmands: circa 1807) that mentions his dish, ‘roti sans pariel’ (roast without equal). It was stuffed with a Turkey, a Goose, a Pheasant, a Chicken, a Duck, a Guinea Fowl, a Teal, a Woodcock, a Partridge, a Plover, a Lapwing, a Quail, a Thrush, a Lark, an Ortolan bunting and a Garden Warbler.



According to the legend (and the History Channel), the American turducken all began in 1985. A local Louisiana Farmer walked into Herbert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, La. With him he carried a chicken, duck and turkey. The unknown farmer then asked for the three animals to be prepared inside one another with stuffing in between each layer. The owner said he thought the man was crazy, but after tasting the 18-pound creation for himself, quickly realized he judged too quickly.


Cajun chef, Paul Prudhomme, says he was the first to prepare the turducken in the 1980’s and included a recipe for it in his now famous cook book, The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.


Related Read: Unique Thanksgiving Dishes


When It Became Part of Pop Culture

In 1997, the turducken was thrust into pop culture when NFL commentator John Madden feasted on a turducken while on air during a New Orleans Saints game. That year Madden awarded the winners of the NFL Thanksgiving Bowl a turducken from the Gourmet Butcher Block in New Orleans. Soon after, sales for the turducken skyrocketed.



How to Get a Turducken from McGonigle’s Market

McGonigle’s Market sells the heavy bird dish in stores this time of year. We source our Tur-Duc-Hen from Big Easy Foods in Louisiana. It consist of 13 lbs. of pork sausage jambalaya stuffed in a chicken, stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a turkey. That’s a lot of meat!  We sell them through Christmas day. Reservations are recommended as they usually go fast.  This is a very dense dish when it comes to meat.  You should allow for at least 72 hours of refrigerator defrosting time before cooking


Reserve yours today in store or by phone. Come on down to McGonigle’s Market on Ward Parkway and 79th Street, or call us at (816) 444-4720.

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