Reminiscing about a giant, toucan-like meat beast


Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it will be the first year in memory that I am cooking absolutely nothing. I’ve cooked the entire meal for multiple families in past years. This year, I am going to drop in on several friends’ Thanksgivings and my degree of participation will be significantly decreased from previous years, but it will be just as important. I will be gifting whiskey. I figure we’ll all need a few drinks to deal with multiple culinary disasters, as is inevitable with cooks who lack passion or experience. I’ll keep my fingers crossed but I know that a Turkey is an easy thing to ruin. And my God, when did it become acceptable to make gravy from powder? Appalling! When it is made right, it is magic sauce that improves everything it touches. When it is made wrong … well, why don’t we just eat snot rockets?

I’ve had my share of culinary disasters, too. There is a dish I will never again attempt to make. “By now you’re probably already seeing a lot of trend pieces in the liberal media about the turducken, which newbie freshman journalists discover every year and their senior editors forget they have run pieces on every year,” says Zachary Kanin in my favorite New Yorker blog. Hey, I have a turducken story.

I made this giant meat beast one year. If you live under a rock and have never heard of turducken, it is a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken. Between each layer of meat, there is a layer of andouille sausage stuffing. In the center of the whole nightmare, some crazy people stick a lobster or oysters. Disgusting, right?

You take each bird and de-bone it with a sharp knife and then assemble the layers like bed sheets on top of each other and then you roll it up and sew it all together. It looks like a Frankenturkey when you’re done. There is a total of about a half-dozen animals in an unholy alliance in one pan, sweating in the oven like they are alive and suffering. Which reminds me that I once found a dead toucan when I was growing up in the jungle. It was partially rotten, and when you turn it over with a stick you find that same “gravy” you would when cooking poultry except there are more parasites on the toucan’s underside. It’s like turning over a rock with moist soil and worms underneath it. In person, toucans really do look like the loveable cereal box character.

Anyway, when cooking a turducken, you can never get the cooking time or temperature right because the whole thing is so dense that the outer layer gets overcooked before the center is done. Then the lobster comes out rubbery.

“Whose idea was this?” an apprehensive guest asks with a grimace on her face. “Shuddup and eat it,” she is advised.

I don’t expect to encounter any turduckens this year. (If you do, make sure not to look it in the eye.) I will celebrate with the huddled masses of displaced strippers. Most of us are transplants to Vegas with no other family besides our friends. There will be a hodgepodge of strange characters from the adult industry. I generally have my friends imported from the East Coast, where people have evolved to learn table manners. There are a handful of vegetarians too, or as I like to call them, “killjoys.” Of course, I kid. I am very thankful for my well-mannered, Pennsylvanian, vegetarian strippers and look forward to spending Thanksgiving in their good company.


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