Boiled Turkey

The Turkey
The turkey, for which fine bird we are indebted to America, is certainly one of the most glorious presents made by the New World to the Old. Some, indeed, assert that this bird was known to the ancients, and that it was served at the wedding-feast of Charlemagne. This opinion, however, has been controverted by first-rate authorities, who declare that the French name of the bird, dindon, proves its origin; that the form of the bird is altogether foreign, and that it is found in America alone in a wild state. There is but little doubt, from the information which has been gained at considerable trouble, that it appeared, generally, in Europe about the end of the 17th century; that it was first imported into France by Jesuits, who had been sent out missionaries to the West; and that from France it spread over Europe. To this day, in many localities in France, a turkey is called a Jesuit. On the farms of N. America, where turkeys are very common, they are raised either from eggs which have been found, or from young ones caught in the woods: they thus preserve almost entirely their original plumage. The turkey only became gradually acclimated, both on the continent and in England: in the middle of the 18th century, scarcely 10 out of 20 young turkeys lived; now, generally speaking, 15 out of the same number arrive at maturity.


Forcemeat No. 417 (Forcemeat for veal, turkeys, fowls, hare &c.)
Source: The Book of Household Management, Comprising Information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and under house-maids, Lady's-maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry-maid, Nurse and nurse-maid, Monthly, wet, and sick nurses, etc. etc. also, sanitary, medical, & legal memoranda; with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort. by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, originally published in 1861. Full text available online here (external link), published by eBooks@adelaide 2006.

Period Recipe

Choosing and TrussingHen turkeys are preferable for boiling, on account of their whiteness and tenderness, and one of moderate size should be selected, as a large one is not suitable for this mode of cooking. They should not be dressed until they have been killed 3 or 4 days, as they will neither look white, nor will they be tender. Pluck the bird, carefully draw, and singe it with a piece of white paper, wash it inside and out, and wipe it thoroughly dry with a cloth. Cut off the head and neck, draw the strings or sinews of the thighs, and cut off the legs at the first joint; draw the legs into the body, fill the breast with forcemeat made by recipe No. 417; run a skewer through the wing and the middle joint of the leg, quite into the leg and wing on the opposite side; break the breastbone, and make the bird look as round and as compact as possible. ModePut the turkey into sufficient hot water to cover it; let it come to a boil, then carefully remove all the scum: if this is attended to, there is no occasion to boil the bird in a floured cloth; but it should be well covered with the water. Let it simmer very gently for about 1–1/2 hour to 1–3/4 hour, according to the size, and serve with either white, celery, oyster, or mushroom sauce, or parsley-and-butter, a little of which should be poured over the turkey. Boiled ham, bacon, tongue, or pickled pork, should always accompany this dish; and when oyster sauce is served, the turkey should be stuffed with oyster forcemeat. TimeA small turkey, 1,5 hour; a large one, 1,75 hour Average cost5s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. each, but more expensive at Christmas, on account of the great demand. Sufficient for 7 or 8 persons. Seasonable from December to February.

Type of Recipe