Several years ago during the week of Thanksgiving, I was assigned the task to bring the main dish to my family’s dinner gathering. Short notice but after quick deliberation, my wife and I decided to surprise them with a turducken to change things up a little.
What is turducken you might be asking?
A description is probably the best way to explain it – imagine a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey and voilà, you have a turducken. If it sounds like a lot of work to prepare, it is. I saved myself the headache of making it and just ordered one. If you search turducken +San Fernando Valley on Google, there are almost no grocery store results. I needed to do my research.
The idea of meats nested, cooked and served with other meats has been around for a while, since the 1800’s as a rôti sans pareil (or a roast without equal). But, the tradition of Turducken in America comes from a butcher in Louisiana who started producing the dish after a hunter came in with the request for his game. Nowadays, this unique delicacy is nearly impossible to get locally it would seem. When I set out this year to find one, my search took me to Whole Foods in Northridge.
In order to make this meal superb, I wanted to find out more about the best side dishes. So, I asked Whole Foods a few questions about the specialty dish. My first stop was the meat counter where Rich the Butcher gave me the low down on the nested birds and what would go best with them.
“Turduckens have south Cajun origins, so I like to bring those flavors to the table.” I asked him about what sides go best and he said, “…veggies such as green bean almondine, roasted vegetables and roasted potatoes in duck fat.” To top off the meal, a delicious fruit crumble or cobbler would be great.
Being indulgent, I had to ask, what about bacon? He replied “Normally …you can’t go wrong with bacon, but it could get a little greasy if you added bacon to it. I would suggest preparing the bacon like a lardon and add it to your stuffing.”
Sounds great so far, but which wine pairing would compliment this marvelous feast? So, off I went to get the answers from Jim, the Whole Foods Wine Specialist. He recommended serving a Sauvignon Blanc (especially a Hush or Morgan) saying “…if you like a red wine with your poultry, choose a Pinot Noir like one from Alma Rosa. Ham (especially a candied one) will go well with a sweet or semi-sweet Riesling, like a Pacific Rim.” But, if you have a Roast beef on the table, Jim suggests pairing it with a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah or a Merlot like a Kunde or Honic. All good choices!
What about options, we gotta have options. We all have that one family member with some type of diet restriction or those who want a vegetarian alternative to turkey.
Now what? Mark the Team Leader in Prepared Foods offered some advice. Top of the list of his alternatives are the Vegan Cranberry Field Roast en croute and Vegan Holiday Roast. He also mentioned vegan mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy dish, both delicious. For variety, Mark said, “try our Vegan Quinoa Stuffing and our Roasted Brussel Sprouts with pancetta and carmel shallots. Both are crowd pleasers.” He added that Whole Foods has a variety of stuffing including Holiday Sausage, Rustic Cornbread and a Wild Mushroom Apple Pecan Stuffing – all of them a hit on the table. Personally, Mark had me at Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta.
Not to leave the traditionalists out in the cold, he did mention that Whole Foods has prepared turkey too. You know the standards: turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy (cannot go wrong there). His tip to me was to reserve a meal, but he did mention that all of Whole Foods side dishes are available in the Chef’s case and on the shelf. That makes life so much easier. Phew.
If you are looking to change-up the holiday tradition but not rock the boat too much, a Turducken holiday dinner with the trimmings is the way to go. Add in a bit of regular turkey on the side for everyone else and for leftover sandwiches the next day.
With the holiday meal right around the corner, Whole Foods Northridge has graciously offered one of our WSFV readers a Complete Holiday Meal for 6. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, how generous!
To enter, all you need to do is let us know in the comments below what YOUR favorite holiday dish and beverage is?
Extra entry? Leave a comment and let us know what dish you would like to try at Whole Foods.
Entry deadline is Monday, November 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM. One entry, per person, per household. Winner will be selected at random and will need to reply within 24 hours or another entry will be chosen. The Complete Holiday Meal will need to be picked up in-store at the Whole Foods Northridge/Porter Ranch location.
CONGRATS to TRACI *********************************************