A Turducken is a dish consisting of a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. The name is a portmanteau of those ingredients: turkey, duck, and chicken. The cavity of the chicken and the rest of the gaps are filled with, at the very least, a highly seasoned breadcrumb mixture or sausage meat, although some versions have a different stuffing for each bird.
The result is a relatively solid, albeit layered, piece of poultry, suitable for cooking by braising, roasting, grilling, or barbecuing. The turducken is not suitable for deep frying Cajun style (to deep fry poultry, the body cavity must be hollow to cook evenly).
Some people credit Cajun-creole fusion chef Paul Prudhomme with creating the commercial dish as part of the festival Duvall Days in Duvall, Wa in 1983. However, no one has ever verified this claim. In the middle of the last century, New Orleans surgeon and urologist Gerald LaNasa was known for his use of a scalpel in de-boning his three birds of choice also known as turduckhen. His efforts in preserving a Louisiana culinary tradition were noticed by emerging local chefs in New Orleans.
The November 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine in an article by Calvin Trillin traced the American origins of the dish to Maurice, Louisiana, and "Hebert's Specialty Meats", which has been commercially producing turduckens since 1985, when a local farmer whose name is unknown, brought in his own birds and asked Hebert's to prepare them in the now-familiar style. The company prepares around 5,000 turduckens per week around Thanksgiving time. They share a friendly rivalry with Paul Prudhomme.
Turducken is often associated with the "do-it-yourself" outdoor food culture also associated with barbecueing and shrimp boils, although some people now serve it in place of the traditional roasted turkey at the Thanksgiving meal. Turduckens can be prepared at home by anybody willing to learn how to remove the bones from poultry, instructions for which can be found on the Internet or in various cookbooks. As their popularity has spread from Louisiana to the rest of the Deep South and beyond, they are also available through some specialty stores in urban areas, or even by mail order.
The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the early 19th century (originally called a Rôti Sans Pareil, or "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. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species.
John Madden, noted NFL analyst, popularized the turducken on air during his announcing for CBS and later Fox by awarding a turducken to players on the winning team for Thanksgiving games. Since moving from Fox, Madden's tradition has died out.