Though Thanksgiving is strictly American, Jane Eyre, David Copperfield and Mr. Darcy all have fond memories of turkey dinners. They ate their turkey at Christmas but they won’t tell if you make these victuals in November instead.
Jane Eyre’s Boiled Turkey (from a receipt she found in Magazine of Domestic Economy, 1838). Remember, the clean napkin is essential!
1 Clean napkin
Oysters (a few)
Mushrooms (a few)
Butter (a bit)
Suet (a bit)
“Boiling a turkey is a very common mode of dressing it, and if nicely done makes a very agreeable dish. To boil it properly, it should be trussed with the liver and gizzard in the wings, be well dredged with flour, and sewn into a clean napkin. But previously to doing that, fill the crop with a forcemeat, or stuffing made of crumbs and bread, parsley, pepper, salt, nutmeg, lemon-peel, an anchovy, a few oysters chopped, a few shred mushrooms, a bit of butter, and a little suet, the whole bound together with an egg. In the water in which the turkey is to be boiled, put the juice of three lemons, two ounces of butter, and handful of salt. Let it boil very slowly.”
David Copperfield’s Turkey Pie. This is especially recommended if you happen to have a hare and a brace of partridge hanging around. Don’t forget the four pounds of butter.
Having made a large standing crust, bone a turkey, a goose, a hen, a partridge, and a pigeon. Season them with half an ounce of mace, the same quantity of nutmeg, a quarter of an ounce of cloves, half an ounce of black pepper, all beat fine, and two large spoonfuls of salt, mixed all well together. Roll up the fowls, the one within the other, with the turkey outermost, so as to look like a whole turkey, and place it in the middle of the crust. Have a hare ready cased, and wiped clean; disjoint and cut it in pieces ; season, and lay it close to one side of the crust; put woodcocks, moor-game, and any other wild fowl you can get, on the opposite side, well seasoned, and packed close together. Put four pounds of butter into the pie; then lay on the lid. The crust must be very thick, and it will take four hours at least, in a hot oven, to bake it properly.
Mr. Darcy’s Turkey in Aspic. People in the Regency era loved aspic. It’s a fancy word for jello. If you’re counting calories this recipe is under 250, unlike that turkey/hare/pigeon pie. This leaves you more leeway for dessert such as mincemeat tarts.
12 ounces cooked turkey white meat, cut in 6 slices
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
3/4 pound fresh asparagus spears or 1 8-ounce package frozen asparagus spears, cooked and drained
6 pimiento strips
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 13 3/4 ounce cans chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 thin slice onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 sprig parsley
Trim turkey slices to uniform shapes; arrange in 13x9x2-inch pan. Top each with 4 slices, about 3 asparagus spears, and a pimiento strip. In saucepan soften gelatin in chicken broth and water. Stir in onion, lemon juice, horseradish, and parsley. Bring to boiling, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth. Chill just till syrupy. Spoon a little broth mixture over each salad in pan. Chill till almost set; keep remaining broth mixture at room temperature and stir occasionally. Repeat spooning room-temperature broth mixture over turkey slices and chilling till a thin glaze of gelatin forms. Pour remaining broth mixture around salads in pan. Chill till set. To serve, trim around each turkey slice and transfer to serving plates. Break up remaining gelatin in pan with a fork and arrange around salads on serving plates. Makes 6 servings.
Which one appeals to you most?