While the turducken has sprung from the swamps of south Louisiana to be something more than a novelty in this country during the past decade – usually around Thanksgiving – it seems that a tradition in the large Italian island of Sardinia has it beat by a long way.
Popularized by famed New Orleans chef Paul Proudhomme, whose roots are in the rustic Cajun lands, the turducken consists of turkey that is stuffed with a duck that is stuffed with a chicken before cooking. In her Why Italians Love to Talk About Food, Elena Kostioukovitch writes about a traditional feast dish in central Sardinia:
The holiday roast carraxiu-style, a specialty invented in Villagrande in the province of Nuoro, eclipses the inventions of Françios Rabelais. According to the ethnographic descriptions, you take a young bull and stuff it with a kid; the kid is stuffed with a piglet, the piglet with a hare, the hare with a partridge, the partridge with a little bird. After sticking one animal inside the other, the town cobbler is called to sew up the tough hide of the young bull using thick waxed twine. In some locations in Sardinia this dish is called malloru de su sabatteri (cobbler’s bull). Only Sardinian experts skilled at cooking meat over the fire are capable of roasting such a “nesting doll” uniformly.
In addition to being rather elaborate, it’s rather an obscure dish, too. Certainly, the effort necessary makes this a rare treat. I had never heard of it. I did not encounter it during my rustic eating trip to Sardinia, neither have I ever seen it on a Sardinian restaurant menu in this country (there are a few). This term carraxiu is not found in either The Italian Food Guide from the Touring Club of Italy, which is quite wide-ranging, or The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink by John Mariani (not so surprising, as I have come across a few dozen terms missing from it thus far).
Since the turducken has shown that Americans are receptive to dishes consisting of animals that have been stuffed into other animals, I wonder if this supersized Sardinian-style turducken might eventually gain some traction.
I’m not holding my breath that it will.