Outside the Southeast, “turducken” is more likely to raise eyebrows than whet appetites. But Chef Adam Gertler thinks that Southern California might be ready for a sausage version of the infamous dish. Through the end of November, Pasadena, California–based fast casual Dog Haus will once again serve up a turducken sausage special.
“My brother and I always joked about making a turducken, but you know how daunting that is: You’ve got to totally debone a turkey, debone a chicken, debone all the stuffing. But we loved the idea so we basically said, why can’t we do it as a sausage?”Gertler says. Dog Haus first offered the turducken special last year, but with a different topping.
Originating in New Orleans, turducken comprises at least three birds: a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck, stuffed inside a deboned turkey. Some renditions also include Andouille sausage, veal, or foie gras stuffed within the chicken’s cavity.
Gertler, who serves as Dog Haus’s official würschmacher, or sausage maker, and frequently appears on the Food Network, chose to stick with poultry.
“This just kind of makes sense. Duck, turkey chicken—why not? You put fresh herbs in there and it just tastes great,” he says. “The flavor profile you recognize as being the flavors of Thanksgiving.” In addition the strong notes of sage, rosemary, and thyme, the dish also has sweet notes from the sweet potatoes and cranberries in the sausage mix.
The holiday flavors are further boosted by toppings. Pan-roasted Brussels sprouts and sweet onions are tossed with maple syrup–apple cider vinaigrette and fresh chopped bacon to form a slaw. The sausage is also topped with sage gravy and crispy onions. Gertler says this distinctive flavor profile pulls from several Turkey Day staples, including stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole.
“[It’s] literally every element of the Thanksgiving table on a bun, which is my favorite part of Thanksgiving,” Gertler says. “At my house, we’ll eat the meal then at 2 in the morning when we’re all playing cards, it’s how much of the stuff can you get in the bun.”
Dog Haus has created special holiday-themed LTOs the past three years, including “Thanksgiving on a Bun,” which featured whiskey-soaked cranberries and sweet potatoes mixed in a turkey sausage, and “Thanksgivikah,” with sweet potato tots and a cranberry-apple relish.
Last year’s turducken special was so popular that Dog Haus continued offering it through December. Gertler can imagine a similar situation this year, especially given the flavor overlap between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And although turduckens might remain a rarity in much of the U.S.—Gertler himself hasn’t yet had the traditional version—Dog Haus’s turducken sausage has been very well received thus far.
“But you can’t find them at a lot of places and usually it’s a thing of lore,” he says. “I was just at Dog Haus in Pasadena and I made a couple of them for everybody, and they’re just awesome so we’re very excited.”
By Nicole Duncan