The Keller Magazine

Turducken, Piecaken, Cherpumple, oh my!

By Mark Fadden

Turducken combines boneless turkey, chicken and duck, and can be served with a variety of “seasonings” between the layers of meat.
Turducken combines boneless turkey, chicken and duck, and can be served with a variety of “seasonings” between the layers of meat. Courtesy of Chris Catlett of Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Houston

“You built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?” That infamous phrase uttered by Michael J. Fox in the 1985 hit movie Back to the Future seemed to usher in a whole new wave of inventions of the weird and wonderful – things that probably shouldn’t work together, but do. These include the toilet bowl go-cart, the beer helmet, and the Spork (ok, the Spork actually is a pretty good invention combining two similar things, but you get the idea).

While mash-ups may have started with zany inventors bringing their crazy combinations to life, it wasn’t long before chefs, and home cooks, started to get in on the mash-up scene. Today, there’s plenty of food mash-ups out there, with items like sushi burritos and the piecaken available at restaurants to the State Fair of Texas’s homage to “what are they going to fry up next?” that provides a golden brown runway to debut the latest and greatest mashed-up offering.

This holiday season, we’re taking a closer look at food mash-ups to get the skinny (and trust me, this is where the word “skinny” ends) on some of the more popular combinations.

Did it all start with the turducken?

There is perhaps no better example of a food mashup than the turducken, which is born when a turkey, duck and chicken are stuffed into each other. Several stories abound as to where the turducken was brought to life. Many contend it was Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme, who claimed that he invented it in a Wyoming lodge. Others state that the idea of stuffing fowl into each other goes back to palace chefs in Renaissance-era Europe.

Chris Catlett of Hebert’s Specialty Meats in Houston, which sells turduckens to customers all over the country, gives some history of meat combinations, but includes how the modern turducken was invented at their original store.

“The idea of stuffing animals into other animals has existed since the Egyptian times when kings would hold huge feasts during their holiday celebrations,” says Catlett. “Our turducken began at the original Hebert's store in south Louisiana. A farmer brought in a turkey, duck and chicken and asked for them to be deboned and stuffed into each other for his family’s Thanksgiving meal. Hebert's convinced the farmer to add a layer of pork sausage between each bird for extra flavor. Thus, the modern day turducken was born. We began production in 1986, and now we sell thousands of turduckens during the holiday season. Since those early days, we have expanded our menu to include many more flavor combinations and dressings available for the turducken including crawfish/rice dressing, cornbread dressing, shrimp/rice dressing, and dirty rice. Something to suit everyone’s taste!”

Holiday dessert on steroids

While a turducken is definitely in the “main course” section of holiday menus, many food mashups exist under the dessert section. The piecaken, which is a pie baked inside a cake, has been referred to as the “turducken of desserts.” And while people have been experimenting with flavors of both the cakes and pies in piecakens for years (all you need to do is Google “piecaken” for hundreds of recipes) one man has taken the piecaken to the next level. Picture three different pies stacked on top of one another baked to perfection inside one delicious cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…the Cherpumple!

“It was Thanksgiving night and, after a traditional meal, I went into the kitchen to find dessert plates stacked up in the trash can and I thought to myself this isn’t very environmentally friendly. We were wasting paper by wanting only slivers of desserts,” says Charles Phoenix, inventor of the Cherpumple, which gets its name from its cherry, pumpkin and apple pies. “I thought that there’s got to be a way to have all the deserts on one plate. I got to thinking about having the pies cooked inside a cake (the spice and yellow two-layer cake recipe that Phoenix uses is a family heirloom), which was not only delicious, but could save the world by attempting the first truly ‘green’ dessert.”

Much like Hebert’s did with the turducken, Phoenix has gone on to make other versions of the original Cherpumple, including the Cherblueple, which contains cherry, blueberry and apple pies and, as Phoenix notes is a perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July. The recipe for the Cherpumple, including an instructional video is available on Phoenix’s website.

“It’s a little daunting, but at the end of the day, it can’t go wrong,” Phoenix says. “The Cherpumple is really a psychological experiment. It’s about letting go.”

“Buy me some mashups and cracker jacks!”

While you can get various mashups such as the cronut (croissant/donut) and a sushi burrito at various restaurants throughout the Metroplex, there’s one place where you can get many different one-of-a-kind mashups, and even catch a little baseball to boot.

The latest menu of mashups at Globe Life Park in Arlington is available during Ranger games, special events and catering, and even on off-days. Offerings include Texas Snowballs, which are shredded brisket balls dipped in funnel cake batter, deep fried and covered in powdered sugar; Chicken and Donuts Sliders, and a foot‐long brownie rolled in a Rice Krispy crust and dipped in funnel cake batter, then fried golden brown and topped with whipped cream named the Elvis Jabberdog Jr.

“Adding new items to the menu here at Globe Life Park is an ongoing process that never really stops,” says Operations Manager Greg Maass, with Delaware North Sportservice. “We keep our eyes on trends within the industry, and also rely heavily on fan feedback. When someone comes up with an item, it is vetted to get everyone’s thoughts on the item. Once we have the vision, our culinary staff will cook up a sampling of the item and everyone will give feedback, and we will have another round of tweaks. Everything from taste to color, to whether or not we can execute the item properly in a stadium environment is discussed. Once we all agree it can be done, we will work on naming the item. Sometimes the item will be named for a player (Elvis Jabberdog Jr), or a theme (Texas Snowballs), but we try and make the names unique and fun for the guests when we can.”

For more information:

Turducken – www.hebertsspecialtymeats.com (Please note - Most people place their Christmas orders during the first two weeks in December.)

Cherpumple recipe and video - www.charlesphoenix.com/how-to-make-a-cherpumple

Globe Life Park Concessions - www.txbaseball.com/concessions.html

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