Here in Vancouver, it’s full on Christmas already. The stores are decked out, the Christmas music is playing, and there are already holiday sales. Being that it’s only November, it’s a long wait to Santa. Mike and I blame the early onslaught of Christmas on the fact that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving a whole month earlier than the US. So, being that we already celebrated Turkey Day (twice because I’m a turkey fiend), I’m happy to share with everyone what we made, just in time for our American friends to plan out what they’re doing for the big day.
I had a duck just hanging out in our freezer (from that time or other that I wanted to make Peking duck) so I decided to go with a tuducken roulade. Turducken, if you’re not familiar with it, is chicken wrapped in duck, wrapped in turkey. Typically, it’s oyster/shrimp stuffing, a whole deboned chicken, rice stuffing, a whole deboned duck, cornbread stuffing, and a whole deboned turkey. It’s basically insanity. I made one once, from scratch, when I was 20, young and especially eager to impress my then boyfriend, who requested a whole turducken, for the two of us, for a romantic Thanksgiving.
Okay, I actually just discussed it with Mike and it’s now clear to me that my ex didn’t actually technically request a turducken. What happened was that he was especially interested, after hearing about it from a coworker. I naively thought it wouldn’t be so much of an undertaking and offered to make us one. But, the thing is…he didn’t refuse! And he seemed really into it. According to Mike, most people don’t refuse things when they’re offered.
Case in point, my parents recently gave us a very generous gift. I tried to refuse it because I thought it was too much – I kinda sort of made a big fuss about it. Later, when I told Mike about the gift, he said to my mom, “aww, thanks so much! That’s really generous of you!” and pulled us into a three way hug. He was so gracious at accepting that I felt like a potato. I guess the morale of this story is, be thankful, and gracious if someone offers to make you a turducken.
The last turducken I made took literally all day, from 8 in the morning until, I don’t even remember when. My knife skills back then were non-existent and let me tell you, deboning three whole birds when you’re an unexperienced cook is a trip to urgent care in the making. Thankfully I didn’t hurt myself, but after that infamous turducken, I’ve never made another – whole turducken that is. But, I fell in love with the combination of chicken, duck, and turkey and have made multiple simple iterations, like this turducken roulade.
By getting rid of the stuffing in between the layers, you eliminate a large amount of ingredients and work. And, if I’m honest, I’ve never been a fan of stuffing inside birds anyway. It’s actually pretty simple to make this roulade, especially if you buy boneless breasts. The key is to trim/pound all the meats into an even layer, and then roll them up, jelly-roll style. Think of it like a porchetta, but with three kinds of poultry, instead of pork.
To help meats adhere to one another, I used transglutaminase, an ingredient I learned about back when I cooked through the Momofuku cookbook. It’s essentially meat glue; it links up proteins and is what they use when they’re making deli meat. Back in 2010 it was a pretty difficult ingredient to get (Mike sweet talked a lady at Ajinomoto for a free sample back in our Momofuku for 2 days) but now you can buy a bag on Amazon, easy peasy.
Using transglutaminase will make your roll nice and neat. I haven’t tried this recipe without, but it would work, especially if you have a set of helping hands when you’re rolling everything up nice and tight in plastic wrap. I went the sous vide route here, so we could evenly cook the meat to 165° and then crisped up the skin in a pan.
The result: crispy burnished mahogany duck skin surrounding insanely juicy turkey, duck and chicken. Take that old Steph! A hands-off, no deboning, delicious turducken.
Turducken Roulade Recipe
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 bonless skinless duck breast
- 1 boneless, skin on turkey breast, see notes
- 1 large piece of poultry skin of choice, see notes
- 1-2 tablespoons transglutaminase, see notes
- salt and freshly ground pepper
I butchered a whole duck for the duck breast, keeping the entire duck skin intact to use as the skin for the roulade. You can use the turkey skin from the breast you buy if you want to keep it simple by buying chicken, duck, and turkey breasts. I used transglutaminase (meat glue), an enzyme they use when they make deli meat to “glue” together the meats. If you don’t want to go this route, you can just wrap everything tightly together. It probably won’t hold together as well, but you’ll still have 3 meats in a sous vide roulade.
For Duck Skin:
Remove the skin from the duck in one large piece. Set aside. Carve out the breasts. Save the legs and bones for stock or other uses.
Butterfly all of the breasts, trying to trim the meat to an even thickness. The goal is so that all of the meats are the same thickness so they roll up nicely. Lightly pound the meats, if needed. Season all sides with salt and pepper.
Starting with the chicken, lightly sprinkle with an even layer of transglutaminase (you should probably wear gloves for this). Roll it up tightly, jelly roll style.
Lay out the duck and lightly sprinkle with an even layer of transglutaminase. Place the chicken roll in the middle and roll up tightly.
Lay out the turkey and lightly sprinkle with an even layer of transglutaminase. Place the chicken-duck roll in the middle and roll up tightly. At this point you want to attach the skin on to the roll. Lay out the skin and, you’ve got it,lightly sprinkle with an even layer of transglutaminase. Place the turducken in the centre and wrap the skin around the meat roll as evenly as possible.
Lay out a large sheet of plastic wrap and tightly wrap up the roll. Use a toothpick to poke some holes in the plastic. This will help remove any air bubbles that have become trapped. Roll it up again, as tightly as possible. Essentially you want as tight of a roll as possible so that all the meats are touching so the transglutaminase can do it’s work and glue everything together. Once everything is as tight as it’s going to get, place the roll in the fridge overnight.
If you’re using Turkey Skin:
Make sure your turkey breast as a lot of skin. Leave the skin intact, butterflying carefully, being careful not to detach the skin in anyway.
Repeat the steps as above, skipping out on laying out the duck skin.
To cook: The next day, your roulade should be nice and tight. Remove the plastic wrap and place in a vacuum sealable bag. Using a vacuum sealer, vacuum and seal the bag tight according to the manufacturer’s instructions; make sure you have a smooth, airtight seal.
Prepare a sous vide immersion circulator for use according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat the water to 150°F. Place the bag into the circulating water and cook for 4 hours. Check the temperature with a digital read thermometer. It should come up to 165°F. If needed, remove the roulade from the bag, place on a roasting dish, and finish in a 170°F oven for 1 hour until the middle reaches 165°F.
Lightly pat the roulade dry with paper towels and heat up a cast iron pan over medium heat. Crisp up the skin, flipping as needed, until deeply golden. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1/2 inch thick slices. Enjoy!