There’s a (possibly apocryphal) Arabian wedding dish that includes fish stuffed with boiled eggs. So far, so good, but then the stuffed fish are placed inside chickens. The chickens go into sheep carcasses, which are finally crammed into a slaughtered camel.
This culinary monstrosity is less difficult to cook perfectly than you might think, as every ingredient is cooked individually between frankensteining them into the next, so that the whole doesn’t need to be cooked from the surface to the middle in one go. If this were the case, especially over an open charcoal fire, the camel part of the dish would be carbonized long before the chickens were done.
Now that you know that turducken is not, in fact, the most difficult thing in the world to cook, we can get started. As far as flavorings are concerned, we are at least sticking to the poultry side of things – anything that works with chicken (sage, garlic, celery, etc.) should be fine to put in the stuffing or sauce. The trick, especially when cooking a whole turducken (three separate birds, intact except for removing the bones) is to heat up the center sufficiently to be safe to eat (65°C or 150°F) while browning but not burning the outside. Turkey is a meat that’s notorious for drying out unless pampered, while raw duck skin is nobody’s idea of a delicacy. Don’t expect this to take anything less than 5 hours, and it would be better to allocate 7.
The first trick you should know is that you can marinate all three birds in a light brine overnight to keep them moist through the cooking process. More complexly flavored marinades are also a possibility, but simple salt water will already improve both juiciness and flavor.
The second shortcut might not appeal to purists, but if you don’t like doing things the hard way, there’s no reason to not partially roast or poach the chicken and duck on their own. The key here is that the skin should start to render, with the fat melting out. You can easily use the resulting juices in a sauce or combine with stuffing ingredients. Assembling your turducken while the inside layers are still warm will reduce cooking time.
Roasting Your Turducken
There are too many variations in technique to easily cover all of them, and most of them can be argued either way. Cover with foil initially, or don’t? Turn up the heat for the first portion of the cooking process, during the final stages, or just keep it constant? To baste, or not to baste?
Depending on what exact route you follow, times and temperatures will vary. The most intelligent thing you can do is use a meat thermometer to ensure that the inside has reached a safe temperature, and definitely don’t neglect to let your turducken rest for at least 20 minutes.