Christmas in July (and a ‘Turducken’ in a Pear Tree)
by The Editor
This weekend will see many Canberran’s take advantage of the chilly weather by throwing open the oven, adding meat and veggies and waiting for it all to bake. While we are blessed with hot summer days allowing for sumptuous seafood spreads across outside tables, the opportunity to huddle inside with a few bottles of red and enjoy a feast of comfort food for a faux Christmas Day was simply too good to pass up.
We found a cold Saturday night the perfect excuse to finally try a Turducken. In fact, thanks to Gino D’Ambrosio from Eco Meats, we were about to feast upon a QUAIL shoved into a Chicken shoved into a DUCK shoved into a TURKEY. Surely this couldn’t be bad for us?
Let’s start at the start. Visitng Eco Meats in Belconnen Markets about six months ago we spied something called a Medieval Feast located in the frezer of their former premises. Piquing our interest, we enquired as to what this actually meant. It was hard disguise our joy to hear that for the price of $110 dollars we could have a Turducken to call our opwn What a shame it was almost 40 degrees in the shade.
Returning two weeks ago to Eco Meats new premises on the corner up from First Choice Liquor, we again encountered Gino who assured us he could prepare the four-bird fantasy fresh for the next weekend. This was wonderful news. We asked one final question: Should we wrap it in bacon? “Oh, definitely.” said Gino.
And with that we were sold.
A week later we were dragging 4.5kg of deboned and strung quail/chicken/duck/turkey into the car, accompanied by about another kilo of smoked bacon. Our biggest concern was it wouldn’t fit in a standard 600mm oven (although Gino had said it would be fine. As it turned out, the Turducken did so with ease. With a bit of oven juggling we would have cauliflower cheese, glazed carrots, minted peas and potatoes cooked in duck fat as accompaniments. The night was going to feel like 1982.
By midday we are ready to go. Gino has informed us the key to cooking the beast is to get the core up to 68 degrees, which is the point at which poultry cooks. 180degrees for four hours or so should do it, but we’ve got time to go low and slow. The bacon plays an important role by effectively sealing the meat and preventing too much moisture escaping. It performs a second function though – this is organic meat and therefore the turkey has not been pre-basted in production to provide extra flavour. Well be looking to the smoked bacon to provide the extra depth rather than a less natural process.
The third key element is the electronic core thermometer. With the needle pushed into the centre of the Turducken and the long wire running out of the oven, we attached the magnetised monitor above the door and set the alarm to 72 degrees just to be sure.
The birds are in the oven the temperature has been set to 120 fan forced, and we have 7.5 hours until mains. Here we go!
You can see by the gallery the way the Turducken visibly cooked over time. By 6.00pm we had hit the magic number and it was time to bring the beast out of the oven to rest (therefore helping the meat hold together during the carving process). It has plenty of time, and we’ve got to make some baked potatoes. In the oven they go.
By the time the accompaniments are ready the oven is sitting on around 220 degrees – just perfect to give the Turducken a quick blast before serving. It only takes twenty minutes to get it back to temperature. The veggies are on the table so it’s time to serve.
The bacon comes off and is moved to the heated serving dish. Removing the netting is fiddly – our fingers are quickly coated with he turkey juices and fat from the bacon wrap. Eventually scissors slice down the centre of the Turducken and it is freed from it’s restraints. Let’s carve!
A carving set is essential – it’s really important to keep the birds still while you run the knife through in order to create a nice thin slice. Unfortunately the meat falls apart a little bit with the various meats separating from each other. Still, the whole thing looks perfectly cooked, with plenty of moisture evident within all the way through the carving process.
We’ve got ten people for dinner, and looks as though we could have served at least a dozen. With a couple of guests going back for seconds there was still a fair amount left on the board. That will make for nice sandwiches tomorrow.
Should you do it?
In a short word, yes. This is simply great value. It’s 4.5kg of organic meat for $110, and if you spring for an electronic thermometer it’s almost impossible to get it wrong. We estimated our food bill was less than $10.00 per serve, so if you’re looking to host a pretty exciting dinner party, this is certainly a hell of a way to go about it.
Plus, it’s really, really, delicious. Happy Christmas!
Belconnen Fresh Food Markets
Wednesday – Sunday: 8:00am – 6:00pm
02 6251 9018