A Squared: Perfect Pairing: Turducken and Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Perfect Pairing: Turducken and Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

Have you ever tried a turducken?

I have to admit that I have always been both curious and skeptical about the infamous turducken, but when Echelon Foods approached me and asked if I'd like to give one a try I could not turn down the opportunity. When the turducken arrived and I saw how large it was (it serves 12-15 people) I knew that Alex and I were not cut out to finish it on our own. Some of my family members had expressed interest in trying it, so we packed it up and carted it to a family weekend at my parents' place to serve for our post-holiday dinner. It was so much fun to share it with all of them!


For those of you not familiar with the turducken, let's start with a little lesson: A turducken is a turkey wrapped around a duck, wrapped around a chicken. Each bird has been deboned so that they wrap smoothly around one another and the gaps between are usually filled with stuffing. In our case, our Echelon turducken was stuffed with an apple herb chicken sausage stuffing.

The beautiful final product!

The whole concept is pretty ingenious. Because duck is fattier, the white meats of the chicken and turkey stay super moist throughout the roasting process and it doesn't even really need to be basted (although I basted with some chicken broth because I like the way it makes the bird look). Carving the turducken is also super easy. Since you don't have to worry about bones, you're able to cut and serve generous slices without the typical hassle of carving a bird.

Dad stepped in to assist us with carving.

Echelon also makes the process incredibly easy. The turducken comes perfectly pre-seasoned (and had a great aroma of thyme when it started cooking), so it only needed to be thawed and then placed on a roasting pan. My mom and I both agreed that we have never had an easier time preparing a holiday roast!

A few notes on my preparation:
  • We roasted ours on a slightly higher temp than was recommended on the package-- around 300-325 degrees for the majority of the cook time and it turned out perfectly.
  • We tented the turducken with foil for the first 3.5 hours of the cook time and made sure that the bottom of the roasting pan was filled with chicken stock.
  • After removing the foil, I basted the turducken about every 20-30 minutes with the stock in the bottom of the pan.

What a delicious holiday dinner!

And like I mentioned before, I was a bit skeptical about how the turducken might taste. I'm a little picky about eating duck (and dark meat, in general), but it was tender, the meat was moist and flavorful, and the stuffing gave it a really nice herb flavor throughout. The whole family agreed that it was a very pleasant surprise and that any of us that had turducken fear (read: me) had now moved past it and become turducken converts. This is an ideal special occasion meal: low maintenance, big enough to feed a crowd, and super impressive. Also, Echelon makes turducken burgers... I'm thinking of picking up a few to take to the cabin for grilling this summer too. Yum!


When the people at Echelon and I were originally discussing this turducken dinner, they suggested that I might want to come up with a holiday side dish recipe to serve alongside the turducken. Always up for a new recipe challenge, I started creating and came up with a really delicious and easy side dish that paired nicely with the turducken: Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes.
 

I love sweet potatoes, but actually hate the traditional super sweet and/or marshmallow-topped preparations that you see on every Thanksgiving table. This side dish is the perfect marriage of savory vegetable side dish and sweet holiday sweet potatoes. The bacon and maple syrup combination is always good, but roasting cubed sweet potatoes and caramelizing Brussels sprouts in it is perfection. Finish it off with the crunch of walnuts (or pecans) and some sweet and tart dried cranberries and it's the ideal holiday side dish. This fresh veggie side dish also pairs perfectly with the rich turducken. A win-win!

This side dish requires very little hands on cook time-- just some ingredient prep-- so it has quickly become one of my go to holiday side dishes. Emma and I made a version of it for Thanksgiving and were pretty much fighting over the leftovers for the rest of the weekend!



Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 1/2 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • 1 1b. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 slices applewood smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, rough chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine melted butter and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl. Add the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and bacon to the mixture. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture out evenly on a large metal baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the walnuts and cranberries until evenly distributed. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 15 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are browned and crispy on the outside and the sweet potatoes are fork tender.


Adapted from original recipe by In Sock Monkey Slippers

Editor's Note: The turducken was provided to me by Echelon Foods at no cost, however the opinions expressed here are all my own. Thanks, Echelon!

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