Yorkshire Christmas Pie: The Georgian "Turducken"

Turducken is a dish consisting of a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is in turn stuffed into a deboned turkey. The word. turducken is a portmanteau of turkey, duck, and chicken. The dish is a form of engastration, which is a recipe method in which one animal is stuffed inside the gastric passage of another. The thoracic cavity of the chicken/game hen and the rest of the gaps are stuffed, sometimes with a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird. The result is a fairly solid layered poultry dish, suitable for cooking by braising, roasting, grilling, or barbecuing. Three Bird Roast In the United Kingdom, a turducken is a type of ballotine called a "three-bird roast" or a "royal roast". The Pure Meat Company offered a five-bird roast (a goose, a turkey, a chicken, a pheasant, and a pigeon, stuffed with sausage), described as a modern revival of the traditional Yorkshire Christmas pie, in 1989; and a three-bird roast (a duck stuffed with chicken stuffed with a pigeon, with sage and apple stuffing) in 1990.Multi-bird roasts are widely available. In his 1807 Almanach des Gourmands, gastronomist Grimod de La Reynière presents his rôti sans pareil ("roast without equal")—a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting and a garden warbler—although he states that, since similar roasts were produced by ancient Romans, the rôti sans pareil was not entirely novel. The final bird is very small but large enough to just hold an olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. Gooducken is a goose stuffed with a duck, which is in turn stuffed with a chicken. An early form of the recipe was Pandora's cushion, a goose stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a quail. Another version of the dish is credited to French diplomat and gourmand Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. The 1891 newspaper article French Legends Of The Table offers Quail a la Talleyrand:
The following for instance, is Talleyrand's fanciful and somewhat roundabout way of roasting a quail. On a day of "inspiration gourmande" at his hotel in the Rue Saint-Florentin, he composed the following recipe: Take a plump quail, seasoned with truffles, and made tender by having been put into champagne. You put it carefully inside a young Bresse chicken; then sew up the opening, and put dabs of butter all over the chicken. Again, you put the chicken inside a fine Berri turkey, and roast the turkey very carefully before a bright fire. What will be the result? All the juice of the turkey is absorbed by the fowl, and all the juice of the fowl in its turn by the quail. After two hours roasting the fowl, which in reality it composed of three fowls, is ready, and you place the steaming trinity upon a dish of fine porcelain or chiseled silver. Then you pull the chicken out of the turkey, and the quail out of the chicken. The quail? Is it correct to talk of the quail, when this delicious, perfumed dish is indeed too good for any name? You take the quail as you would some sacred relic, and serve it hot, steaming, with its aroma of truffles, after having roasted it to a golden yellow by basting it diligently with the best Gournay butter.
The book Passion India: The Story of the Spanish Princess of Kapurthula (p.295) features a section that recounts a similar dish in India in the late 1800s: "Invited by Maharajah Ganga Singh to the most extraordinary of dinners, in the palace at Bikaner, when Anita asks her host for the recipe of such a succulent dish, he answers her seriously, "Prepare a whole camel, skinned and cleaned, put a goat inside it, and inside the goat a turkey and inside the turkey a chicken. Stuff the chicken with a grouse and inside that put a quail and finally inside that a sparrow. Then season it all well, place the camel in a hole in the ground and roast it." turducken Hannah Glasse's Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy is one of the easiest Georigan Recipe books. Her recipe for Yorkshire Christmas Pie could easily be construed as an early "Turducken" and is printed below. A modern version can be found at Celtnet Recipes.
To make a Yorkshire Christmas pie. First make a good standing crust, let the wall and bottom be very thick ; bone a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them all very well, take half an ounce of mace, half an ounce of nutmegs, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, and half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine together, two large spoonfuls of salt, and then mix them together. Open the fowls all down the back, and bone them ; first the pigeon, then the partridge, cover them; then the fowl, then the goose, and then the turkey, which must be large ; season them all well first, and lay them in the crust, so as it will look only like a whole turkey ; then have a hare ready cased, and wiped with a clean cloth. Cut it to pieces; that is, joint it ; season it, and lay it as close as you can on one side ; and the other side woodcocks, moor game, and what sort of wild fowl you can get. Season them well, and lay them close, put at least four pounds of butter into the pie, then lay on your lid, which must be a very thick one, and let it be well baked. It must have a very hot oven, and will take at least four hours. This crust will take a bushel of flour. In this chapter you will ſee how to make it. These pies are often sent to London in a box as presents ; therefore the walls muſt be well built. Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, 1747
 
Historical Information from Wikipedia.com

2 comments

It’s a bit crazy, isn’t it? That just seems a bit gluttonous to some of us.
No wonder so many well-to-do people of the past ended up with gout, if not also more than a bit overweight!
They’re fantastic recipes, by the way- but you so wouldn’t want to make a habit of eating such rich dishes. How much would the cost be for this single dish, I wonder? (if you could give the period amount, that would be awesome)

0car1na249 July 26, 2020

1 bushel of flour is equal to 40 lbs, give or take. Imagine how much lard you would need! Though I did read somewhere they didn’t always eat the crust as it was seen more as a baking dish than food.

Mr Pineo July 26, 2020

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