Holiday TurDuckEn!

Holiday TurDuckEn! - LabJack

It's a Chicken inside of a Duck, inside of a Turkey! In terms of LabJack projects, this goes a bit off the beaten path.  One of our employees demonstrates his skills as a chef while also testing out a prototype of our new Digit series logging device.  Inspired by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, from The Food Lab at Serious Eats.  The Food Lab is an intersection of science and food.  A great source for geeks who like to cook!



The following steps provide a brief look at how the turducken was assembled and cooked.  It isn't intended as a recipe, for more details about the recipe see the 'The Food Lab: How To Make The Ultimate Turducken' page on Serious Eats.

1. Allow all 3 birds to thaw.

2. De-bone the chicken.  This step is probably the one most people consider to be challenging, but following the above method it's really quite simple.  There is also a video of the process done by legendary chef Jacques Pepin.   The chicken was also brined using Thomas Keller's brine from his Ad Hoc at Home cook book.  It has some herbs, lemons, a bit of honey and makes some of the most delicious tasting chicken we've ever had.

3. Add a layer of sausage and insert the Digit-TL.  We vacuum sealed the digit in a tiny bag to prevent any kind of contamination and to keep the case grease free.

4. Wrap the chicken back up.

5. Seal the chicken in a vacuum bag, and place in Sous Vide machine.

6. Set temperature to 140F.

7. Once finished cooking, sear the chicken skin a bit using a blowtorch.  This step is optional, but fun!

8. De-bone the duck.

9. Add sausage and then put the chicken inside.  The duck was treated using Thomas Keller's duck breast recipe from Ad Hoc at Home.  It involves a little bit of orange zest, some nutmeg, salt, peper, thyme, balsamic vinegar and a bay leaves left to sit overnight.  It adds a really nice flavor.

10. Seal the duck/chicken in a vacuum bag, add string to preserve shape.  You can see the nutmeg on the skin of the duck.  It's a shame it is sealed here, because it smells delicious! 

11. Sous vide the duck/chicken again.

12. Next you have to sear the skin of the duck and render out the fat.  This step can be difficult because of how bulky it can be, but it's completely worth it since you end up with some delicious duck fat you can use for potatoes. Next, remove excess on the ends so it fits inside the turkey.

12. De-bone the turkey.  A mistake was made here and the wing tips were cut off like they were on the other birds.  It doesn't effect things much other than making the final product look like it has stumpy arms.  The turkey had a simple dry brine, once again inspired by The Food Lab.

13. Add the duck/chicken inside of the turkey, then truss it with string to get the shape right.  This step is easier when you do it properly.  We didn't.

14. Cook the Turducken in the oven until golden brown.  Still looked good though!

15. Cut up the bird and enjoy!  It's best to remember that you put the a LabJack Digit inside. 

As you can see from the above photo, the LabJack Digit was inside of the bird for the entire process.  The data shows how the internal temperature of the bird varied over time, see below for when the meat was removed, photographed, brazed, etc.  The reason it was included was for food saftey reasons.  As The Food Lab article describes, part of the difficulty in cooking the turducken is getting all of the pieces up to a safe temperature for a proper amount of time, and then keeping it at a safe temperature.  The middle layer is the hardest to do, as it is the largest.  When other layers are added, they only have that outside layer to cook, which is much thinner.  Plus it is cooking from the inside out so it reaches the target temperature much faster.  We cooked the middle layer for about 3 hours which gave it plenty of time to get above 135 degrees and stay there for an hour.  The temperature dropped a bit after removing it from the water bath of course, but throughout the rest of the process the temp stayed relatively level.  We also checked the outside layers with a probe at each step to make sure they were reaching the desired temperatures.

Data Analysis

The next day I opened the digit and downloaded the data.

The Digit had a nice scratch on the side from where I tried to slice it in half while carving the turkey.


The config page is far left, the interesting parts are on the data page.  Look at the data analysis image to see all of the events in the procedure.  The logging interval was once per minute.  Download the data set from the link at the bottom of the page.

Other information

See a more detailed process explanation from the recipe page on Serious Eats:

A few notes:


  • A unique feature of the Digit is that it comes with a waterproof enclosure, although in the first photo you'll notice it sitting in a bag.  It is in the bag because our chef was concerned that the metal enclosure might make the meat taste different.
  • Look to buy a Digit-TL early January.  It is currently in the final stages of testing and refinement.
  • The software screenshots are of the Digit application, which is a stand-alone app that will be available on our software downloads once the Digit is released.

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