North America: The Presidential Turkey Pardon

President Obama Pardons a Lucky Turkey Photo © Alex Wong/Getty Images

The presidential pardoning of one lucky turkey is a fairly modern practice.  Although Abraham Lincoln could get  unofficial credit according to some historians.  Supposedly, their family had a pet turkey that Lincoln’s son viewed as a pet and asked to be spared.

President John F. Kennedy spontaneously spared a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963, just days before his assassination, but did not grant a “pardon.” The bird was wearing a sign reading, “Good Eatin’ Mr. President.” Kennedy responded, “Let’s just keep him.”

In 1989, George H.W. Bush became the first president to pardon a turkey. Before then, turkeys were presented to the president and consumed by the president.

The concept of a turkey pardoning was first mentioned by president Regan as a joke, but H.W. Bush made it all possible with the following words: “This fine Tom turkey, has been granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

2nd Annual New York City International Film Festival August 18th-24th


The 2nd Annual New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF) comes to Manhattan and with it movies from around the world. NYCIFF introduces the creative works of emerging and established filmmakers to a broad but unique audience.  Affluent New Yorkers, and the general public will be able to experience and enjoy independent, creative films.   NYCIFF promotes for 11 days New York City’s Theater District and Times Square as the cradle of cutting edge entertainment, and opens the doors of  NYC to an eclectic, international and national, group of the filmmaking community.

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The Turkey: A North American Bird

The wild turkey is native to northern Mexico and the eastern United States.  Later it was domesticated in Mexico, and was brought into Europe early in the 16th century. 

Since that time, turkeys have been extensively raised because of the excellent quality of their meat and eggs. 

Some of the common breeds of turkey in the United States are the Bronze, Narragansett, White Holland, and Bourbon Red.

Turducken: The pride of a Louisiana Thanksgiving (by Monica Johnson)


Turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken with Chorizo stuffing between each layer

The initial thought of a a chicken stuffed in a duck which is then stuffed in a turkey is a little hard to comprehend. It just seems like too much! However, when you find out that this specialty called turducken is said to have been created in Louisiana; it somehow all makes sense.

The history of turducken is relatively recent and has a lot of different stories, but over the years there is one that seems to stick. The story begins in 1985 – the setting…Maurice, Louisiana, home of a butcher shop called Hebert’s Specialty Meats. The History Channel show, American Eats, investigated the matter, going right to the source of the story – Sammy Hebert. Hebert, owner of the shop, tells about an old farmer who walked in one day with a turkey, duck, and chicken which he had killed in his backyard. The farmer asked Hebert to debone the birds and stuff them in one another along with some sausage dressing in between each layer. Hebert admits, “I thought he was crazy asking for that, but we did it, and it ended up not being crazy.” Come on Sammy…maybe there was just a touch of crazy in the old farmer.

Nonetheless, the result is a creation that is the stuff of Thanksgiving dreams. Orders for this Louisiana delicasy have increased more and more over the years and the more exposure it gets, the more likely you may be to see turducken on your Thanksgiving table some time in the near future. Try the following recipe for Turducken. Happy eating!

Recipe for Turducken from  (

Prep Time: 1 hour/Cooking time: 4 hours/Total Time: 5 hours (times are adjustable according to the size of turkey, chicken, and duck)



3 pounds whole chicken, boned

salt and pepper to taste

Creole seasoning to taste

1 (4 pound) duck, boned

16 pounds turkey, boned

3 cups prepared sausage and oyster dressing


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lay the boned chicken skin-side down on a platter and season liberally with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Lay the boned duck skin-side down on top of the chicken and season liberally with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

Lay the boned turkey skin-side down on a flat surface. Cover with a layer of cold Sausage and Oyster Dressing and push the dressing into the leg and wing cavities so they will look as if they still have bones in them.

Lay the duck on top of the turkey skin-side down and cover it with a layer of cold dressing. Lay the chicken on top of the duck skin-side down and cover it with a layer of cold dressing.

With the help of an assistant, bring the edges of the turkey skin up and fasten them together with toothpicks. Use the kitchen string to lace around the toothpicks to help hold the stuffed turkey together. Carefully place the turducken, breast up in a large roasting pan.

Roast covered for 4 hours or until the turducken is golden brown. Continue to roast uncovered for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer inserted through the thigh registers 180 degrees F. and a thermometer inserted through the stuffing registers 165 degrees F. Check the turducken every few hours to baste and remove excess liquid. There will be enough pan juices for a gallon of gravy. Carve and serve.

Click here to watch the American Eats: Turducken video.

Try this cornbread chorizo stuffing featured on MCCN

Picture from the Thyme for Food