[Sca-cooks] Origins of "Turducken" a "Mystery"

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Thu Jun 14 09:09:02 PDT 2012

Or they could have read our archives where we have discussed it time and again. 
From December 2009

"The Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook, which is from 13th c. Muslim Spain,
has some similar recipes, including the only recipe I've seen that is
close to a turducken (ie., with multiple beasts each inside the next,
like Russian nesting dolls).

Roast Calf, which was made for the Sayyid Abu al-'Ala in Ceuta[6]

Take a young, plump lamb, skinned and cleaned. Make a narrow opening
between the thighs and carefully take out everything inside of it of
its entrails. Then put in the interior a roasted goose and into its
belly a roasted hen and in the belly of the hen a roasted pigeon and
in the belly of the pigeon a roasted starling and in the belly of this
a small bird, roasted or fried, all this roasted and greased with the
sauce described for roasting. Sew up this opening and place the ram in
a hot tannur and leave it until it is done and browned. Paint it with
that sauce and then place it in the body cavity of a calf which has
been prepared clean; sew it up and place it in the hot tannur and
leave it until it is done and browned; then take it out and present

I don't know why the recipe title says "Roast Calf", but the recipe
itself begins with a lamb.  Scribal error?

Brighid ni Chiarain"


has some information but those Files haven't been updated since 2005. I am sure there is more gathered up on the subject.

Mistress Brigid also posted this message back in 2006

What the heck, here's the post again:
> I was delighted yesterday to discover that the Cervantes Virtual Library has
> added a transcription of an early 15th c. Spanish carving manual.  I have a
> photocopy of the book, and the facsimile has been on line for a while, but
> having it in a searchable form is much nicer.  Browsing through, I found some
> things I hadn't noticed before, including instructions for serving animals
> stuffed with cooked birds.
> "...suele fazer en reales combites, que dan las terneras asadas enteras e los
> vientres llenos de capones e otras aves preciadas, asadas o cochas, por
> magnificencia; e cosido encima el logar por donde las pusieron. Estonces
> abrese por la costura e sacan las aves. E si quisieren, pueden fazer piecas
> d'ella e cortarla, como dicho es, antes o después de las aves, segúnt fuere
> plazible a los comedores. E si las dan doradas, non se comen sinon los tajos
> de la cabeza, de ojo, de lengua, de paladares e lo al dexanlo por
> magnificencia e aun porque non es tan bueno de comer, por la clara del huevo
> en que se á de asentar el oro e porque ha de venir frio..."?
> Enrique de Villena, Arte Cisoria, 1423 (first published 1766)
> The above text is taken from the transcription at:
> http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/FichaObra.html?portal=0&Ref=708
> An online facsimile is at:
> http://www.bib.ub.es/grewe/showbook.pl?gw60
> "...what they are in the habit of doing for royal feasts, for magnificance; is
> to serve the calves roasted whole, and their bellies full of capons and other
> esteemed birds, roasted or boiled, and stiched above the place where they were
> put in.  Then it is opened through the stitching and the birds are taken out.
> And if they wish, they can make pieces of it and cut it, as is said, before or
> after the birds, according to whatever is pleasing to the diners.  And if they
> are served gilded, they are not eaten except for the cuts of the head, the
> eye, the tongue, and the cheeks, and they leave it for magnificence, and even
> because it it not very good to eat, because of the egg white with which they
> afix the gold, and because it has to arrive cold."
> (Translation by Mistress Brighid ni Chiarain)
> Talk about conspicuous consumption!
> Villena mentions that sheep and goats are sometimes roasted whole, and served
> with small birds in their bellies.  He doesn't mention gilding these.
> There are many other interesting tidbits, such as the right kind of scarf for
> a peacock to wear to a feast, and why servers shouldn't hang out in stables
> and smithies.
> Brighid ni Chiarain
> Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom
One of the American "origins" articles that I came across a few years back said this:

"Came across a Turducken Express recipe today in the
January 2010 issue of Chile Pepper magazine. It's out on newsstands now.

The article includes this explanation of where the modern turducken originated:

" ONCE upon a time, possibly at a lodge in Wyoming, possibly at a butcher shop in Maurice, La., or maybe even at a plantation in South Carolina, an enterprising cook decided to take a boned chicken, a boned duck and a boned turkey, stuff them one inside the other like Russian dolls, and roast them. He called his masterpiece turducken.

In the years that followed its mysterious birth, turducken has become something of a Southern specialty, a holiday feast with a beguiling allure."

quoted in "Turkey Finds Its Inner Duck (and Chicken)" By AMANDA HESSER Published: November 20, 2002"


I had a conversation with a couple of professional food historians a few years back and there was a suggestion that maybe there was also a 17th century Italian source, but the holiday season got busy and we kind of abandoned the discussion.

On Jun 14, 2012, at 7:33 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:

> Greetings!  While scrolling around the Internet I came across this item in a group of photos of the fattest foods in the US:
> http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20393387_41,00.html
> The line that caught my eye was "The origin of this monstrous meal is mysterious, but rumor has it that the first turducken may have been assembled at a plantation in South Carolina."
> Too bad the reporter didn't look on Wikipedia!
> Alys K.

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