Schooner Ladona Turducken
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This turducken is made only on special occasions by Anna Miller, chef on the Schooner Ladona, which is part of the eight-vessel Maine Windjammer Association. The stuffing, by recipe developer Hannah Selinger, brings the flavors of Thanksgiving to any meal, and the drippings from the turducken make great gravy.
A few notes about making the turducken: If you’re not comfortable removing the bones from a turkey, duck, or chicken yourself, you can ask your local butcher to do this for you. Just make sure to call ahead of time around the holidays, when there may be prolonged wait times for special butchery services. Some purveyors, it should be noted, do sell partially de-boned chickens and ducks. D’Artagnan, the online retailer, is one example. There are, too, conventional grocery stores that now offer “spatchcocked” chickens for sale (this means that the backbone and part of the ribcage has been removed). Keep in mind, however, that these birds are not completely de-boned—they still have their leg bones intact—and that they typically cost more money than bone-in birds.
A trussing needle, which you will need to tie the bird together, is a long, thick, stainless-steel needle that is typically used to tie pieces of meat and poultry together. You can find one at your local butcher, specialty cooking supply shop, or online retailer. Most trussing needles are about 7-inches long and have a large enough eye to facilitate threading thick, waxed butcher’s twine. Butcher’s twine can be purchased at most conventional grocery stores, as well as at specialty retailers and online.
For a turducken of this size, you will need a large—or 18-inch—roasting pan. Roasting pans typically come in three sizes: small (14-inch), medium (16-inch), and large (18-inch). Small pans are useful for birds that are up to 12 pounds. Medium pans can accommodate birds up to 16 pounds. But for a turducken, which requires a much larger turkey, use the largest roasting pan you can find.
If intimidated, remember that Miller produces this meal in a 196-square-foot galley kitchen—meaning that your home’s kitchen is probably up to the task.
For the stuffing
- 1½ pounds (about 1½ loaves) good-quality, day-old white bread, cut or torn into ½ to ¾-inch cubes
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2½ cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
- 2 cups ½-inch chunks celery, (about 6 stalks)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
- 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
- 2½ cups chicken broth (as needed)
- 2 cups oatmeal
- 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
For the turducken
- 1 (18 pound) whole turkey, partially deboned, with leg bones and wings intact
- 1 (5 pound) whole duck, completely deboned
- 1 (4 pound) whole chicken, completely deboned
- 6 tsp. salt, divided
- 3 tsp. pepper, divided
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the Stuffing
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Spread bread out in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake, stirring occasionally, until dried and crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and cook the onions and celery over medium-high heat until just cooked, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add them to the bowl with the bread, along with the herbs and seasoning.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until well combined. Slowly add the chicken stock, roughly one half-cup at a time, until the mixture just comes together. You may want to use your hands to test the consistency. The stuffing should be moist and just stick to itself but should not be unnecessarily gummy. Add the oatmeal and stir again, squeezing the stuffing to test for stickiness. Taste the stuffing to check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Mix in the eggs.
For the Turducken
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Place the turkey skin-side down on a large rimmed baking sheet and season it with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Spread half of the stuffing—about five cups—evenly over the turkey. Lay the duck out directly on top of the stuffing, skin side down, and season the duck with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Place half of the remaining stuffing on top of the duck. Repeat the process once more with the chicken, laying the bird out, seasoning with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Spread the remaining stuffing on the flattened chicken.
3. Pull the sides of the turkey up to encase the other birds and, using a trussing needle and butcher’s twine, sew up the back of the bird. It will seem like the filling is too much to enclose, but it will work. To prevent the skin from tearing, be sure to sew using thicker pieces of skin, and not too close to the edges. Turn the bird over and place it into a large roasting pan. Drizzle the exterior of the bird with olive oil and season the skin with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Using kitchen twine, loosely tie the end of the leg bones together. Cut about 2 feet of twine and place under the bird about 2 inches from the neck opening. Gather the ends and tie tightly to secure the turducken. Repeat about every 2 inches down the bird until you reach the top of the leg.
4. Cook for approximately five to six hours, rotating several times during cooking for even browning. The bird is done when a thermometer inserted into the center of the bird reads 160°F.
5. Allow the bird to rest for 30 to 40 minutes. Slice the bird down the middle and make perpendicular slice to serve so that guests can see the layers of poultry and stuffing.