FROM THE MAILBAG: LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN
I am currently deployed in Afghanistan with the 101 Screaming Eagle Division out of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. We were talking about manly subjects the other day and we found ourselves debating about the manliest meat (1. Steak; 2. Bacon; 3. Beef Jerky – was our conclusion), which quickly lead to our idea of cooking a qual in a duck and a duck in a turkey, a turkey in a pig, a pig in a lamb, and the lamb in the cow. We need to know if it is even possible, and if it is not, why? And if it is, how? I was hoping u would have some advice to get this down and how big of a barbecue pit we would need? We come home in 7 months and would like to make this happen. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you kindly,
Sgt. Woodward Thaddeus
Hi, Sgt. Woodward Thaddeus,
Good to hear from you and glad to hear that the creative barbecue spirit is alive and well in Afghanistan. The dish you wrote about has a long history: One modern-day example is Louisiana’s turducken. (Made by stuffing a boned chicken with sausage, then putting it in a boned duck, and putting that in a boned turkey.) Turducken is actually quite delicious–we serve it often for Thanksgiving.
There’s even a sort of joke that goes with the concept–recounted by a famous French food writer of the 19th century: You stuff an anchovy in an olive and put the olive in a thrush. Stuff the thrush in a woodcock, then a quail, then a squab, then a chicken, then a duck, then a turkey, etc. Then you roast the whole
shebang. The most flavorful part of the dish? The olive? No…the anchovy!
You can certainly do some version of your idea–you’d need someone with good knife skills to bone each animal. And I’d probably put the turkey in the lamb first, then the pig. I think the best way to cook it would be by spit-roasting.
You’d need a giant pit and you should be ready to settle in for at least 18 hours of roasting. If you do, please send us a photo.
However, cool as the idea sounds, you’d actually eat better if you divided and conquered–that is, roasted each animal separately. Why? In a nutshell, caramelization. The most flavorful part of any roasted meat is the browned crusty exterior. By cooking one animal inside of another, you stew it. Way cool concept and presentation, but you sacrifice a lot of flavor.
By the way, all of us at www.barbecuebible.com appreciate your service to our country. Be safe and return home quickly. I’m going to post your query on our blog.
Grill on, Screaming Eagles!