Roast Turkey Stuffed With Oysters (1889)

A CAPE FEAR RECIPE

FAT, tender turkey, a two-year-old gobbler is the best. After it has been nicely picked, singed, drawn, and washed well inside—some cooks say don’t wash game or fowls, but they are neither nice nor wise, and the vast majority of decent people would refuse to eat unwashed meat if they knew such to be its condition—no possible loss of flavor can come to the meat by being washed quickly and then dried inside with a soft cloth; but even if assured that the flavor would be diminished, still wash the fowls.

Now, having washed and wiped the turkey, proceed to stuff him. Take one pound of nice loaf bread and rub it into fine crumbs; mix with it one-half pound of fresh butter, salt and black pepper (and a little red pepper), until it tastes well seasoned, and two stalks of celery chopped rather small. Add to this two quarts of the best oysters, strained from their liquor, and carefully picked over for bits of shell, etc. When the oysters are mixed with the bread, add enough of their liquor to moisten the stuffing well.

Fill the body of the turkey, after putting the legs inside in the orthodox fashion, and sew the slit up well. Fill the hollow in the breast whence the craw (or crop) was removed, and tie the skin tightly round the neck, being sure to remember to cut and remove the string before sending the fowl to the table.

Rub the whole outside of the turkey with salt and pepper, and dredge it well with sifted flour, and set it in the oven to roast. Put it in on its breast, so that the back will brown first. Pour into the pan one pint of oyster liquor and one pint of hot water. Baste the fowl constantly with this liquor, turning it from side to side, so as to insure every part being done. Turn the breast up last, so that it will have the rich crispness of its delicate skin unimpaired by laying in the gravy while other parts are browning.

The turkey ought to be done in four hours, though that of course depends upon its size and the steadiness of the fire, and last, but not least, the baking quality of the oven. When done, the turkey should be a uniform, rich, crisp brown.

The gravy must be skimmed of all the fat, and if not thick enough, cream a little flour and butter together and add to it. And just here we have the secret of an old Cape Fear cook’s gravy which was at once the delight and the despair of rival cooks,—yea, and their mistresses too. “Mama Mary” always took half of the turkey’s liver (or two or three chicken livers and cooked them in the pan with the turkey), and when they were done she rubbed them to a smooth paste, removing all bits of gristle or fiber. And when she was ready to serve her gravy, she mixed the pounded liver thoroughly well into it, let it come once to a boil and poured it into the gravy boat. The addition of the liver is the greatest possible improvement to the gravy.

Good Housekeeping, 1889

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