When sliced, every diner should receive a piece that contains some chicken, some duck, some turkey, sausage stuffing, and crisp skin.
Everything you need
De-boning a bird is easier than it sounds. All you need is a sharp boning knife (or a short chef's knife or paring knife will do), a bird, and some clean kitchen towels to hold it with.
Remove the wing tips
Start by cutting off the wing tips between the joint. (Skip this step for the turkey).
Locate the wish bone
Next, locate the wish bone by pulling back the skin on the breast around the neck until you can feel the V-shaped bone just under the surface of the meat.
Make your first cut on one side of one branch in the wish bone. Repeat on the other side of the same branch, then make two more cuts on the opposite branch. This should loosen it completely.
Remove the bone
Remove the wish bone by pulling it out with your hands. A kitchen towel can be used to get a better grip.
Slice open the back
Your next cut is straight down the backbone. Cut firmly and deeply, letting your hand press against the vertebrae to ensure the skin is completely split.
Fine the wing joint
Pull back the corners of the skin like you're opening the collar of a shirt and feel for where the wing meets the body (there should be a ball joint there).
Remove the wing
Use your knife to cut through that joint just until the wing bone pops out. Do not slice any more than is necessary. With ducks and turkeys, there is also a larger collar bone attached to the same joint that can be easily pried from the body.
Repeat on the other side
Cut through the second wing joint as well.
Grab the wing
Holding the chicken's neck firmly with one had, use the other to grab the entire wing.
Pull down on that wing and the meat should start to separate from the back and the breast bone on its own. Use your finger to pull through any stubborn connective tissue. With the turkey, you may need to use just the very tip of the knife to cut through tough connective tissue. Continue pulling down until the oyster—the dark muscle where the thigh meets the backbone—is exposed.
Repeat on the other side
Repeat with the other wing. The breast should now be half hanging off the front of the bird.
Use your fingers
Stick the index finger and middle finger from one hand into the space between the breasts and the breast bone, using the other to hold the back firmly. Pull down and out to separate the breast meat from the bone. (The tenderloins will stay attached to the bone for now—this is okay).
Keep pulling on the breasts until they are completely separated from the carcass. The only thing holding the carcass in place now is the thigh joints.
Locate the thighs
Turn the chicken so its back is facing up, then carefully cut through the oyster to expose the thigh joint.
Grab the leg
With the oyster separated, grasp the entire leg and bend it in towards the body while simultaneously lifting it upward. This motion should cause the ball joint to pry out of its socket.
Cut through the joint
Once it pops out it's easy to see what little connective tissue needs to be cut through to release it entirely.
Repeat and remove
Repeat with the other side, then pull the carcass away from the meat entirely.
If you're on the turkey, you're done! For the chicken and duck, the remaining bones must be removed. Read on.
Take the tenderloins
Remove the tenderloins from the carcass by running your thumb under them.
Pull it off
Once it's loosened, the tenderloin can just be pulled off. No knife necessary. They should pop right out. If you want, you can remove the tough ligament that runs through them by grasping it with a kitchen towel, then scraping your knife along its length. The meat should come off, leaving the ligament in your hand.
Sweep the leg
To remove the leg bones, start by grabbing the inner end of the thigh bone and using the hilt of your knife to scrape away meat. It should come off cleanly.
Cut around the joint
When you reach the knee, you'll need to cut a few bits of connective tissue. Work your way around the knee systematically until it's all clear.
Keep scraping until the leg bone is also clean.
Crack the ankle
You can try and cut the leg bones out completely, but easier is to just crack the bone at the ankle with a heavy knife or cleaver, then cut through the skin, discarding the end of the bone. The leg and thigh bones should then easily slip right out.
Remove the wing bones
To remove the wing bones, lift them up and rest the end against the cutting board. Press down on the meat and skin around it firmly.
Pull it out
The bone should pop right out.
Re-align the tenderloins
Place the tenderloins in the space between the breasts and the legs to create a more even layer of meat.
Butterfly the breast
Similarly, butterfly the top of the breast and fold it towards the center to even up your meat.
The breast section should look like this.
Season the chicken evenly and liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
Spread a layer of sausage over the surface of the bird.
Roll one side
Carefully roll up one side, then...
Roll the other
...roll up the other, letting the skin overlap to form a good seal.
Ready to poach
Looks almost just like a real chicken, right?
Wrap in plastic
To help keep its shape, you have a few options. You can wrap it in plastic...
...you can cryovack it, or you can just truss it with string. Any method will work.
I poach my chicken gently, starting it in lukewarm water that I then bring up to a subsimmer before reducing the heat to the lowest setting.
Use a thermometer!
Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. You are looking for between 140°F to 150°F (I prefer it cooler, though if you want slightly firmer meat, go hotter).
Here's the duck, already boned out, ready to receive a nice hot chicken injection.
Ready to wrap
The duck is seasoned with salt and pepper, the sausage is spread, and the hot chicken is placed directly along its center, all on top of a sheet of plastic wrap.
Use the plastic wrap as a sling to lift one side of the stuffed-duck over the chicken.
The plastic wrap makes it easy to get the duck into an even layer. Repeat with the other side. Again, you can wrap tightly in several layers of plastic, truss with twine, or...
...use the cryovack to secure your bird.
Re-truss after poaching
After poaching the duck just as you did the chicken, take it out of the bag (if you used one), and tie it up. We're about to sear it.
Place the duck in a medium hot skillet with a little bit of oil and cook it until golden brown and crisp on all sides. This ensures that there's no flabby skin inside the roast when it's cooked.
Ready to stuff
If you really can't resist, you can go ahead and eat some of this guy right now. Looks tasty, don't he? Either way, trim off the end of the ducken so that it just fits the length of your turkey breast.
Place the turkey on your board skin side down and season it with salt and pepper.
Add your ducken
Place the ducken right down the center (after removing the twine, that is).
Fold 'er up
Close up the turkey, allowing the skin to overlap on the back.
Keep it in place
Use skewers to start trussing up the back.
Ready to flip
Once the back is secure, it's ready to be seasoned and placed in a roasting pan. Rub it all over with some oil and season with salt and pepper.
Trussing the bird will give it a better shape and expose the legs to more browning. Start by placing a long piece of kitchen twine under the breast bone.
Pull it back and wrap it around the breasts, tucking it into the wings.
Pull it foward
Pull it back around towards the legs, cross the strings, and wrap them around the ankles.
Wrap around the ankles a few times, the tighten it up and tie it off. Roast in a preheated 425°F oven until the turkey registers 145°F in the breast and 165° in the thighs, about 1 1/2 hours.
Ready to carve
It should emerge from the kitchen golden brown, crisp, and looking just like a regular turkey.
Remove the legs and carve
Carve it by first removing the legs and wings, then splitting the body in half lengthwise, revealing its layered interior.
Slice and serve
Lay each half flat against its cut side, then slice and serve.
Ready to eat
Your family will pat you on the back. I swear it.