Eating Over The Sink
By Zack Grady, CarbSmart Contributor
Y’all know about Little Red Riding Hood, don’t you? The little girl who goes happily tripping through the forest to Grandma’s house. Red meets up with Wolf, and Wolf eats either poor Granny, Little Red, or both, depending on what version of the story you’re privy to. It’s a pretty old tale, a couple of hundred years old at least, and it suits Hallowe’en to a ‘ T.’
Except that it has been sanitized so much for modern young readers that in some variations, the hunter comes on over from Peter and the Wolf to save the day. Brave Hunter cuts Grandma out of Wolf’s belly (she was swallowed whole, don’t you know), just as he did for poor Sasha, duck of Peter.
I suppose that part’s okay. I’m not a purist, after all. But, herein lies the current dilemma. It is no longer Politically Correct to cut open the belly of Wolf, his being an endangered species, probably complete with a puppy dog’s soul, and all that. Certainly, we will soon see new versions of the story emerging in which Red has a proclivity for social work, and talks Wolfy out of his tendency to Elder Abuse, and out of his carnivorous ways, as well. “What big teeth you have, Grandma!” says Red. “Better to teach you Dental Hygiene with, my dear!”, says Wolf.
But the story of Red Riding Hood wasn’t always “everybody body lives happily ever after.” Consider this from the early 1800s, in which “he” refers to our friend the wolf, and “her” refers either to sweet Grandmother or to Red, herself, I’m not sure which:
“He dashed her brains out on the stones;
He gnawed her sinews, cracked her bones.
He munched her heart,
He quaffed her gore,
And up her light and liver tore!”
Now that was a Halloween story you could get your teeth into, so to speak!
We know that Little Red Riding Hood was out there in the forest because she was carrying a basket with several items of food that she was taking to Granny. The answer to Wolf’s question, “What you got in the basket, Red?” variously listed custard, cakes, cheesecakes, sweetmeats, eggs, cookies, and (from a 1950’s talk-jazz record) an apple, an orange, a lemon, a lime, a pickle, a steak, a box of beans, a herring, a hog, and fourteen doses of bicarbonate of soda. And all versions (except the jazz record) include butter, even the 1888 one that says that Red is carrying blackberry wine and only a pat of butter.
Anyhow, when I write my tale of Red and her basket, in addition to butter, it will include what has to be the most perfect dish for Halloween. Some writers have called it the world’s most decadent dish, but I don’t think decadent even comes close. It smacks of eating little hummingbirds by the gross, like the Romans did. Voila: the Turducken!
A turducken is a turkey that has been stuffed with a duck that was first stuffed with a chicken. (The duck is no doubt a close relative of Sasha, mentioned above.) The official recipes (one from no less a personage than Paul Prudhomme) involves removing all the bones of the birds, stuffing the chicken with bread or rice dressing, and then putting the chick in the duck, and the duck in the turkey. Like a set of Russian dolls. Then you roast the whole creature(s) for either nine minutes a pound at 500 degrees, or 12 hours at 200 degrees, take your pick.
In case you are kitchenly-challenged, it is possible to buy one (or is it actually three) of these things ready-made, and ready-to-reheat-and-eat from gourmet food suppliers on the Net and elsewhere, for about $130. But if that doesn’t fit your budget, you can follow the recipe by my favorite chef, to wit “Uncle Zack’s Low Carb Modified Hallowe’en Turducken.”
Get a medium turkey, a medium-small duck, and a smallish chicken. Now don’t be asking me how big is medium, or how small is smallish. It depends on how hungry you are, and how many other ghoulish folks will be joining you at the table.
Cut the legs and the wings off the chicken and the duck, but not off the turkey. Peel as much of the skin as you can off the chicken and the duck, but not off the turkey. Then, using kitchen shears or big scissors, cut all the way along both sides of the back bones of all three of the birds so you can remove their spines.
Bend the chicken body open and put a bunch of celery and garlic in there. (Ditto on how much is a bunch.) And a cut up onion.
Next, bend open the duck’s cavity more than you did for the chicken, and put the chicken inside the duck. Now put the duck/chicken inside the turkey. Deposit this incredible, all-but-genetically-engineered descendant of a dinosaur into a roasting pan. Cook it at about 350F until the legs on the turkey move very, very easily and everything is crispy and browned. About 4 or 5 hours should do it, unless your idea of medium is my idea of big. When it/they are done, pour off the juices from the roaster into a microwave-safe bowl. Put the bowl into the refrigerator while you’re getting the rest of the meal on the table. This allows the fat to come to the top.
Get out your electric knife and the same kitchen scissors that you used to dismember the back bones of the birds. Cut straight down, all the way through the three birds so all portions get a hunk of each creature.
Separate the juice in the bowl from the fat that has risen to the top. (Be sure to save the fat; it is great for cooking other things later on.) Microwave the defatted juice for 2 or 3 minutes to heat it up again, then ladle some over each serving. And pour some glasses of red wine. Blood-red wine. Let’s not have any wimpy white wines with Hallowe’en turducken! No sir. As Count Dracula said, “The blood is the life!” But, that is a story for another day.
Zack Grady cuts up his birds in Southern California. He prefers the wings.
To read Zack’s previous articles, go to: Eating Over The Sink.