The Culinary Curator

Being a Journal of Narratives and Discoveries

Three Ways to Cook a Turkey

Posted by JJ Jacobson on November 21, 2012

These three recipes are from a Swedish immigrant cookbook: Fullständigaste Svensk-Amerikansk kokbok (Popular Swedish-American cookbook)  which I wrote about here.

Immigration and ethnic communities is a significant area in which culinary history sheds light on a larger theme in American history.   Immigrant women had a reason for needing cookbooks. They had come to a place where kitchen tools and measurements were different than those they had learned as children. Ingredients they had known in the Old Country often needed substitution in America. They were pulled in two directions – maintaining familiar foodways, and adapting to their new environment. Through publications by and for immigrants, we can trace the process of becoming American, accommodating American foodstuffs and foodways and creating a cultural identity that was both, for instance, Swedish and American.

This title is an all-purpose cookbook and household manual, published in 1897 Chicago, at that time a jumping-off point for many Swedish immigrants headed for frontier communities, and itself possessed of a sizable Swedish-American community.  Besides recipes it covers availability, preservation and keeping qualities, nutrition, and digestibility of foodstuffs.  It also includes menus, and ways of serving ( French, with all the dishes on the table, Russian, with diners’ individual plates composed at the sideboard, and the tradition of the Smörgåsbord as served before meals.) The recipes are mainly American, but a few are identified as belonging to other cuisines, such as the following…

Turkey stuffed in French manner. Remove from turkey weighing from seven to eight pounds all the inside matter; then dry it with a clean towel, but use no hot water. Take five pounds of meat from a young steer calf, scrape away all cords and chop it. Mix the minced meat with half a pound of kidney lard, half a pound of ox marrow and a portion of stuffing. Work this for a while until it becomes fine and smooth; then add three eggs, salt and pepper to suit, also a wine glass of French brandy. Mix well again and fill with it that part of the turkey where it had the crop, but on the uppermost part below the skin, put in slices of dressing. The stomach is tilled in the same manner. Next sew the turkey together and line it with large slices of pork. The turkey ought to lie filled in this way three or four days in order to get the taste of the stuffing in the meat. Roast it but slightly and put it whole on the table. Remember that the stuffing swells. Hence do not fill too much.


Roast turkey in English way. Kill several days before cooking, and let it hang by the legs until used. Prepare in theusual manner; stuff with bread crumbs—rejecting the crust—rubbed fine, moistened with butter and two eggs, and seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley, sage and sweet marjoram; sew up, truss and place to roast in a rack within the dripping-pan; spread with bits of butter, tum it and baste it frequently with butter, pepper, salt and water; a few minutes before it is done glaze over with the white of an egg; take up the turkey, pour off most of the fat, add the chopped giblets and the water in which they were boiled, which thicken with flour and butter rubbed together: stir all in the dripping pan, let it boil well, and serve in a gravy dish. Serve with celery-sauce and stewed gooseberries or cranberries. Garnish with fried oysters. Select a turkey of eight to ten pounds. If in roasting it is likely to brown too much, cover with a white paper, buttered.

Engraving of a whole roast turkey

and finally

Roast turkey in American way. Dress and rub the turkey well, inside and out, with salt and pepper; truss or twine it; put in a steamer and steam two hours, or until it begins to grow tender, lifting the cover occasionally and sprinkling lightly with salt; then take out, loosen the legs, and rub the inside again with salt and pepper. Make the stuffing as follows: Take a loaf of stale bread, take off the crust and soften it in a pan of boiling water; drain off immediately and cover closely; crumble the soft part of the bread very fine, and add half pound melted butter, or more if to be very rich, and a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Drain off the liquor from a quart of nice oysters, bring to a boil, skim and pour over the bread crumbs, adding the soaked crust and one or two eggs; mix thoroughly with thehands, and if too dry, moisten with a little’ milk; lastly, add the oysters, being careful not to break them; or first put in a spoonful of stuffing and then three or four oysters, and so on until the turkey is filled, stuffing the breast first. Flour a small cloth and place over the openings, tying down with twine; spread the turkey all over with butter, salt and pepper; place in a dripping-pan in a well heated oven; add a half pint water, and roast two hours, basting of ten with a little water, butter, salt and pepper, kept warm in a tin placed on the back of the stove. A swab is better than a spoon to baste with. Turn until nicely browned on all sides, and about half an hour before it is done, baste with. butter alone and dredge with a little flour, which will give the turkey a frothy appearance. When the turkey is dished, if there is much fat in the pan, pour off most of it and add the giblets, together with the water in which they have previously been cooked until tender, now stewed down to about a pint; place one or two tablespoons flour (half of it browned flour) in a pint bowl, mix smooth in a little cream or milk, and add to the gravy in the pan; boil several minutes, constantly stirring and pour into a gravy tureen. Serve with currant or apple jelly.

Engraving of a whole roast turkey with garnish

However you celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


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