We tried a couple dishes that we hadn’t sampled before for our Christmas Eve dinner last weekend. For the main course, we ordered a turducken — the weirdly wonderful and obscenely opulent creation where you stuff a deboned chicken inside a deboned duck inside a deboned turkey. I had been intrigued by this feast of fowls since seeing John Madden carve one up during a Thanksgiving football game a few years ago. We were inviting my parents over for dinner on Christmas Eve this year, and they had already served us turkey for Thanksgiving, so we needed an appropriately meaty main course that wasn’t turkey. We figured we’d kill two … umm … three birds with one stone.
We ordered our turducken (or Tur-Duc-Hen, as the label read) from Cajun Grocer. looked like a buffed-up turkey with a very square, broad chest. It was delivered to us frozen, already seasoned with creole seasoning, and stuffed with a load of cornbread dressing. All we had to do was unwrap it, throw it into a baking pan with some water, and put it in the oven for about five hours. It came out of the oven a nice golden brown. One cut across the breast and the bird pretty much busted open and an enticing aroma burst forth.
After some digging around, I was a bit disappointed to discover that this particular turducken did not involve a triple stuffing. Instead of being a meaty nesting doll of fowls, it was just a deboned turkey stuffed with duck breast meat and chicken thigh meat. Flavor-wise, however, the turducken was terrific. My favorite part was the chicken and turkey meat at the bottom, which soaked up all the sauce during baking. The duck breast meat, while tasty, was very dense and coarse and a tad on the dry side. Still, the turducken as a whole gets a thumbs-up. It also gave us a week’s worth of leftovers.
For dessert, we served a homemade Christmas pudding. You’re supposed to let this thing sit for six weeks after first preparing it, so we made our pudding before Thanksgiving. It involved a lot of dried fruits, some flour, a little bit of suet (which we lucked into thanks to one of the butchers at the meat section at a local Harris Teeter), and a healthy helping of brandy. We mixed everything up in a big bowl, covered it, and put it into a pot to steam for about five hours (see the recipe we used).
After that, it sat covered up in a cool place for more than a month, getting periodic infusions of more brandy. With each passing day, the rich aroma of sweet, savory, and alcohol intensified. On Christmas Eve, we resteamed the pudding for an hour, and Courtney made a sweet pudding sauce to accompany it.
As tradition dictates, you must pour more brandy on the outside of the pudding and set it ablaze before serving. Our pudding didn’t quite hold its dome shape when we took it out of the bowl (must remember to grease the inside of the bowl more next time), but that didn’t stop us from igniting our little volcano of deliciousness:
After the fire went out, we dug into our pudding. The flavor of the brandy was very pronounced, especially since it had just been set on fire. This was a very rich and heavy dessert, but was well worth the weeks of waiting.