Going back to my first year of living in my own house with my ex-wife, she didn’t trust me to be able to deep fry a turkey without ruining it. She actually said she was more worried I’d burn the house down than anything, but now, years after our divorce, I realize she was just always worried about everything to an absurd level of over-reaction. Anyway, that’s a whole other discussion. Because of this fear, when we hosted Thanksgiving that year, we decided to do two turkeys: 1. A deep fried turkey, and 2. A roasted, traditional turkey.
Doing two turkeys had been a tradition I kept up for some time after that. In 2015, the deep fried one was so good, half the skin didn’t even make it to the dining room table, being ravenously devoured in the kitchen by all five of us at my house that day. It was absurd.
In 2016, for my birthday, a month and change before Thanksgiving, my parents bought me an actual smoker, identical to the one they have in California that I’ve used heavily.
I thought, “let’s do a third Turkey, because everyone loves massive smoked Turkey drumsticks!”
That was a great idea, but I ultimately opted to go down a more absurd route.
The Turducken – a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey – is about as over-the-top as you can imagine. It’s Thanksgiving personified, a statement of pure unadulterated gluttony. However, it’s also, from a foodie perspective, not ideal. The best temperatures for the chicken and turkey ruin the duck, and the meat of the duck itself is arguably the best. Plus, you end up with too much rendered duck fat wasted in the turkey, etc., etc.
And if I’m going to smoke, deep fry and roast something, why not do three separate birds?
Thus, the “Deconstructed Turducken.”
- Deep fried turkey
- Smoked chicken
- Roasted duck
Yeah. We did all of that. At the same time.
So, the alarms for this went off every few minutes. There was always some step to be done. The longest pole in the tent was the duck, though just barely, and the chicken actually took the longest amount of time.
So, I think the best way to write this up is chronologically... After the massive ingredient list that is.
- A small turkey (13 lbs)
- A small duck (~6 lbs)
- A small chicken (~2.5 lbs)
- Enough fresh garlic to wipe vampires off the planet
- 4 tbsp Basil oil
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp fresh ground sea salt
- 1 tbsp Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp recovered “meat salt”
- 2 tsp lemon pepper
- 3 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp dried sage
- 1x medium red onion
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp White wine vinegar
- ½ cup White wine
- 1 tbsp Flour
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1x Carrot
- 1x Celery
- 1 cup Orange juice
- 4x Tangerello Oranges (clementines)
- 20 oz Arrogant Bastard Ale
- 24 oz Bud Light
- 40 oz Maskelyne Oaked Imperial Double IPA (21st Amendment’s “Hop Crisis” will also work)
- 12 oz Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut butter porter
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- ½ cup Chicken stock
- Mesquite smoking wood
- Hickory smoking wood
- Pre-prep. Make sure all three birds are fully thawed on the morning of serving. Toss all the guts unless you need them for something. We kept the duck liver for other purposes, tossed the rest of the duck and chicken guts, and kept all the turkey bits for gravy flavorings, but your mileage may vary depending on your own needs. You won’t need any of that for the actual birds.
- Pre-heat oven to 475° F & pat the duck dry.
- Stir together 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp black pepper, and sprinkle inside and out of the duck.
- Peel and divide out two clementine oranges, and dice up a medium red onion into eighths. Pack the oranges and four hunks of the onion into the duck.
- Fill up a 1 gallon pitcher with ~40 oz of oaked imperial double IPA (OIDIPA). I brew my own OIDIPA called “Maskelyne” that is a whole different recipe for another time, but it’s ~105 IBUs, ~10% ABV, and still tastes balanced and nuanced, not like a watery beer filled with hop extract and a shot of vodka like too many IDIPAs come out. Pack the pitcher up with as much smoking wood, 50/50 mix of hickory and mesquite as you can. If the beer doesn’t cover the wood all the way to top, add a bit more off the tap until it does. Let wood soak in beer.
- Wet rub for the chicken & turkey is the same rub… 2 tsp Garam Masala, 3 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp fresh ground sea salt, 1 tbsp recovered “meat salt,” 2 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp cumin, 3 tsp ground sage, 2 tsp lemon pepper, 4 tbsp basil oil. Pat birds dry, mix it up and rub it on both birds! If you’re wondering what “recovered meat salt” is, it’s what happens when you hack off the top layer of a massive salt block used in a broiler to sear meats. I use a serrated blade to grind off the top layer during cleaning, doing it on a large piece of saran wrap on top of a towel or drying pad (to keep everything from dangerously sliding) then recover the salt into a container. It has an amazing meaty flavor to it.
- Fire up the smoker, low heat, and pack the smoking tray with the beer soaked wood. Keep the beer in the pitcher available on the side, and fill the humidity tray in the smoker with 24 oz of Bud Light and 12 oz of Sweet Baby Jesus chocolate peanut butter porter.
- Open a 20 oz can of Arrogant Bastard Ale and slide the chicken cavity over it. When the smoker is up to ~150° F, toss it in and set a timer for two hours.
- Dice up the carrot and celery, and toss with the other four hunks of red onion into the roasting pan. Place the roasting rack on top, and then place the duck in the rack and toss it into the oven for 30 minutes.
- Get the peanut oil – in my case, 3.5 gallons – fired up in the deep fryer. It might not need to be done this early if you’ve got a mega-powerful cooker or you live somewhere warm on Thanksgiving, but it was freezing cold outside for me, so it took a little longer to get up to temperature. Initially you want to get it to 250° F.
- After the duck’s first “round” is done, mix ½ cup orange juice, ½ cup chicken stock and ½ cup white wine and toss into the pan. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and return duck to roasting pan for another 60-75 minutes.
- Once you put the duck in the oven, lower the turkey into the 250° F oil and crank the heat up. Goal is to get it up to 350° over the next 40-45 minutes as turkey deep fries.
- Check on chicken; try to keep the temperature in the smoker between 170° F and 200° F; don’t want to dry out the meat. Make sure the wood on bottom isn’t lighting on fire (if it is, pour the OIDIPA you kept in the pitcher onto the fire to put it out). Also, if the humidity pan is running low, add 2:1 of Bud Light to Sweet Baby Jesus. Don’t worry about the Arrogant Bastard inside the chicken; it’s highly unlikely even half of it will evaporate over the course of the cooking.
- When satisfied everything is going good, it’s time to make the duck a l’orange sauce… Dump 1/3 cup of sugar into a dry saucepan and let it cook over medium heat until it begins to melt into a caramel. Add ½ cup orange juice, 2 tbsp of white wine vinegar, and a pinch of kosher salt – it’ll steam up pretty violently – and stir until the caramel is dissolved into a liquid. Then remove from high heat, onto the lowest simmer setting until the duck is finished.
- When the duck is done – you should get ~170° F in a thigh (you want it a lot colder in the breast if possible – crank the broiler and roast it for 3-4 inches to brown the skin, then remove from the oven.
- Fire up BBQ and heat to maximum temperature. I do it over coals I begin cooking in a chimney when I first turned the smoker on.
- Remove the rack and set over another pan to drip temporarily as you tilt the pan to collect the juices and veggies. Toss the veggies in the trash, and let the liquid settle. Skim the fat off the top and save it in a container into the fridge (duck fat fries anyone?) Pour the remaining juices into a sieve and into a large saucepan.
- Remove beer can from chicken and place over BBQ for 3-5 minutes to blacken skin.
- Stir together 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp flour to make a beurre manié, and bring the pan juices to a simmer and add to the beurre manié, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When smooth, add the orange syrup and keep stirring until smooth.
- Remove turkey from oil after ~45 minutes in oil and rest to dry for ~10-15 minutes.
- Remove chicken from grill.
- After short rest, all three birds should be ready…
This will be the juiciest chicken breast you ever ate. The duck meat is phenomenal. And the skin on the turkey is amazing.
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