1 large can crushed pineapple
4 large onions
6 celery stalks
buncha preserved ginger
2 cans water chestnuts
3 packages unseasoned bread crumbs
3/4 pounds ground veal
1/2 pounds ground pork
1 quart apple cider
This is a recipe that has been around for so long, cherished all the while,
that it has acquired a considerable gloss, in the classic sense of the word.
As scholarly medieval monks studied and interpreted their precious
hand-copied books, they made notes in the margins and between the lines, to
enhance the content of the book for the next reader. When the document was
copied, much of this "gloss" found its way into the new book.As the books
grew with gloss, so has this recipe grown. When I first saw the recipe,
thirty-one years ago, it had been transcribed by Morton Thompson from
God-knows-where, and it bore the gloss of Robert Benchley and an Unknown
Scribe. In my custody, it seems to grow like a warm yeast dough, from my
efforts and those of Bill the Great Dane.
Each time it's transcribed, including this time, I see something that needs
clarification or correction. If this were an orderly world, the various
levels of the recipe would be distinguished by stacked norkies (>>>), or
wakas, if you will.
No such luck here, though. Up to now, this has been pure Bob Brunjes. After
the asterisks, some notes are identified; some are not. Some are me; some
may go back to ancient Egypt.
This ambiguity saves me. I've been chastised before in this group for
sanctioning alcoholic excesses in the kitchen, but it's not so. I was just
following the recipe, this recipe. And if you have an ounce of respect for
tradition in you, so will you.
For about a dozen years, at the approach of turkey-eating season, I have
been trumpeting to all who would listen, and to a good many who would rather
not, that there is only one way to cook a turkey. This turkey is not my
turkey. It is the creation of the late Morton Thompson, who wrote "Not as a
Stranger" and other books.
This recipe was first contained in the manuscript of a book called "The
Naked Countess" which was given to the late Robert Benchley, who had eaten
the turkey and was so moved as to write an introduction to the book.
Benchley then lost the manuscript. He kept hoping it would turn up--
although not as much, perhaps, as Thompson did, but somehow it vanished,
irretrievably. Thompson did not have the heart to write it over. He did,
however, later put his turkey rule in another book. Not a cookbook, but a
collection of very funny pieces called "Joe, the Wounded Tennis Player".
THE ONLY WAY TO COOK A TURKEY!!!!!!!
This turkey is work... it requires more attention than an average
six-month-old baby. There are no shortcuts, as you will see.
Get a HUGE turkey-- I don't mean just a big, big bird, but one that looks as
though it gave the farmer a hard time when he did it in. It ought to weigh
between 16 and 30 pounds. Have the poultryman, or butcher, cut its head off
at the end of the neck, peel back the skin, and remove the neck close to the
body, leaving the tube. You will want this for stuffing. Also, he should
leave all the fat on the bird.
When you are ready to cook your bird, rub it inside and out with salt and
pepper. Give it a friendly pat and set it aside. Chop the heart, gizzard,
and liver and put them, with the neck, into a stewpan with a clove of
garlic, a large bay leaf, 1/2 tsp coriander, and some salt. I don't know how
much salt-- whatever you think. Cover this with about 5 cups of water and
put on the stove to simmer. This will be the basting fluid a little later.
About this time I generally have my first drink of the day, usually a RAMOS
FIZZ. I concoct it by taking the whites of four eggs, an equal amount of
whipping cream, juice of half a lemon (less 1 tsp.), 1/2 tsp. confectioner's
sugar, an appropriate amount of gin, and blending with a few ice cubes. Pour
about two tablespoons of club soda in a chimney glass, add the mix, with ice
cubes if you prefer. Save your egg yolks, plus 1 tsp. of lemon -- you'll
need them later. Have a good sip! (Add 1 dash of Orange Flower Water to the
drink, not the egg yolks)
Get a huge bowl. Throw into it one diced apple, one diced orange, a large
can of crushed pineapple, the grated rind of a lemon, and three tablespoons
of chopped preserved ginger (If you like ginger, double this -REB). Add 2
cans of drained Chinese water chestnuts.
Mix this altogether, and have another sip of your drink. Get a second,
somewhat smaller, bowl. Into this, measuring by teaspoons, put:
2 hot dry mustard 2 caraway seed 2 celery seed
2 poppy seed 1 black pepper 2 1/2 oregano
1/2 mace 1/2 turmeric 1/2 marjoram
1/2 savory 3/4 sage 3/4 thyme 1/4 basil
1/2 chili powder
In the same bowl, add:
1 Tbl. poultry seasoning 4 Tbl parsley 1Tbl salt
4 headless crushed cloves 1 well crushed bay leaf 4 large chopped onions
6 good dashes Tabasco 5 crushed garlic cloves
6 large chopped celery
Wipe your brow, refocus your eyes, get yet another drink--and a third bowl.
Put in three packages of unseasoned bread crumbs (or two loaves of toast or
bread crumbs), 3/4 lb. ground veal, 1/2 lb. ground fresh pork, 1/4 lb.
butter, and all the fat you have been able to pull out of the bird.
About now it seems advisable to switch drinks. Martinis or stingers are
recommended (Do this at your own risk - we always did! -REB). Get a fourth
bowl, an enormous one. Take a sip for a few minutes, wash your hands, and
mix the contents of all the other bowls. Mix it well. Stuff the bird and
skewer it. Put the leftover stuffing into the neck tube.
Turn your oven to 500 degrees F and get out a fifth small bowl. Make a paste
consisting of those four egg yolks and lemon juice left from the Ramos Fizz.
Add 1 tsp hot dry mustard, a crushed clove of garlic, 1 Tbl onion juice, and
enough flour to make a stiff paste. (This is a procedure that seems to need
clarification. Make the paste about the consistency of pancake batter for
the first coat. After a couple of coats, I thin the paste a little, with
water or any other fluid taht falls to hand. After a couple more coats, I
thin a bit more, so that the final coats have about the consistency of
whipping cream -REB) When the oven is red hot, put the bird in, breast down
on the rack. Sip on your drink until the bird has begin to brown all over,
then take it out and paint the bird all over with paste. Put it back in and
turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Let the paste set, then pull the bird
out and paint again. Keep doing this until the paste is used up.
Add a quart of cider or white wine to the stuff that's been simmering on the
stove, This is your basting fluid. The turkey must be basted every 15
minutes. Don't argue. Set your timer and keep it up. (When confronted with
the choice "do I baste from the juice under the bird or do I baste with the
juice from the pot on the stove?" make certain that the juice under the bird
neither dries out and burns, nor becomes so thin that gravy is weak. When
you run out of bast, use cheap red wine. This critter makes incredible
gravy! -REB) The bird should cook about 12 minutes per pound, basting every
15 minutes. Enlist the aid of your friends and family.
As the bird cooks, it will first get a light brown, then a dark brown, then
darker and darker. After about 2 hours you will think I'm crazy. The bird
will be turning black. (Newcomers to black turkey will think you are
demented and drunk on your butt, which, if you've followed instructions, you
are -REB) In fact, by the time it is finished, it will look as though we
have ruined it. Take a fork and poke at the black cindery crust. Beneath,
the bird will be a gorgeous mahogany, reminding one of those golden-browns
found in precious Rembrandts. Stick the fork too deep, and the juice will
gush to the ceiling. When you take it out, ready to carve it, you will find
that you do not need a knife. A load sound will cause the bird to fall apart
like the walls of that famed biblical city. The moist flesh will drive you
crazy, and the stuffing--well, there is nothing like it on this earth. You
will make the gravy just like it as always done, adding the giblets and what
is left of the basting fluid.
Sometime during the meal, use a moment to give thanks to Morton Thompson.
There is seldom, if ever, leftover turkey when this recipe is used. If there
is, you'll find that the fowl retains its moisture for a few days. That's
all there is to it. It's work, hard work--- but it's worth it.
Kat's Cranberry-Port Relish
(This recipe comes from my daughter, who also takes holiday cooking _very_
seriously; This stuff is to _die_ for -REB)
3 Cups Fresh or frozen cranberries
1 Medium onion, minced
1/3 Cup Cider vinegar
1 Cup Golden raisins
1 Cup Granulated white sugar
1 1/2 Cups Port
1/2 tsp Ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger (I use 1-2 Tbsp candied
ginger, instead -REB)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
In a 3-4 quart pan, combine cranberries, onion, vinegar, raisins, port,
nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon. Bring quickly to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Simmer uncovered while stirring often until mixture is reduced to about 3
cups, about 30 minutes. Again, stir frequently to avoid scorching.
If you can make this a couple of days before it's eaten, and refrigerate it,
its flavor will be at its best.
Turkey (black, of course), mashed potatos (a _must_ for the gravy),
cranberry relish and cranberry sauce, hot rolls, a cooked vegetable or two,
candied sweet potatos (no marshmallows here), a salad of some type, pies
(pumpkin (really squash), chess, cranberry-hazelnut, mince, or sour-cream
lime), and whatever's a family favorite.
I hope this helps.
Collected by Bert Christensen