Facts from my Fiction: Historical Cookery

One of the things that makes writing historical fiction so much fun is that I get to learn how people lived.  That includes learning about what foods people enjoyed, and how they were prepared.  From time to time, I’ll share a recipe I’ve found so that you can see just how much cooking has changed.  Here’s the first example.  Enjoy!

To Roast Turkey (Godey’s Ladies Book, 1860, 1862, 1863, and 1865)

Public domain image, Wikimedia Commons

Prepare a stuffing of pork sausage-meat, one beaten egg, and a few crumbs of bread; or, if sausages are to be served with the turkey, stuffing as for fillet of veal; in either, a little shred shallot is an improvement.  Stuff the bird under the breast; dredge it with flour, and put it down to a clear, brisk fire; at a moderate distance the first half hour, but afterwards nearer.  Baste with butter; and when the turkey is plumped up, and the steam draws towards the fire, it will be nearly done; then dredge it lightly with flour, and baste it with a little more butter, first melted in the basting ladle.  Serve with gravy in the dish and bread sauce in the tureen.  It may be garnished with sausages, or with fried forcemeat, if veal stuffing be used.  Sometimes the gizzard and liver are dipped into the yolk of an egg, sprinkled with salt and Cayenne, and put under the pinions before the bird is put to the fire.  A very large turkey will require three hours roasting*; one of eight or ten pounds, two hours, and a small one, an hour and a half.

 * Today’s roasting charts call for the following:  8-10 pounds at 325 F. for 3 to 3-1/2 hours; 10-14 pounds at 325 F. for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

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