Turkey in the form of a turtle

A most curious beast

This classic turkey recipe combines sweet and savoury flavours, lemon and bacon, and madeira wine and forcemeat and illustrates perfectly two key aspects to Second Empire cooking: hearty ingredients and imaginative presentation. A simple turkey would be transformed into something that could surprise guests with its various flavours and dazzle them with its turtle-like appearance.


- one turkey
- 300-400 gr. of stuffing
- 30 slices of bacon (for a stronger flavour, use smoked bacon)
- the juice of two lemons
- Madeira wine
- chicken stock
- salt and pepper
- truffles (optional)  
- 4 crayfish claws
- The head and tail of a crayfish
- 200 gr. of button mushrooms
- peeled tomatoes
- Espelette peppers

Period Recipe

Take a young turkey and remove the gallbladder [and other organs]; singe it gently. Debone it, splitting it across its back. Leave the feet and wings attached. Take care not to puncture the skin in any way, and lay it on white linen. Dust the flesh with large peppercorns and salt. Fill the carcass with salpicon, sew up the skin, and fix the feet and wings underneath. Ensure that the [turkey] is well rounded. Line a pot with bacon strips, place your turkey on top, add lemon juice, and cover with more bacon strips. Moisten with a glass of Madeira wine and good consommé. Simmer for an hour and strain. Untie [the feet and wings] and place on a plate. Make the turtle's feet with four crayfish claws which should be pushed into the sides of your turkey. Create its head with that of a large crayfish, and the same for the tail, attached to the turkey. Prick with large dark truffles the size of cloves in the form of a draughtboard; sauce your turkey with a sauce financière, to which you will have added chilli butter. Serve. (Viard, improved by Bernardi, Le cuisinier national, Paris, 1851) - Salpicon: French term for mixture of diced or minced meat and vegetables used as stuffing.- Sauce financière: made with veal stock, mushrooms, Madeira wine and chilli pepper.

Bon appetit

- stuff the turkey
- Line a cast-iron casserole dish with half of your bacon strips, and add the turkey, which you have salted and peppered. Baste with lemon juice, and cover with the remaining bacon strips.
- Moisten with a glass of Madeira wine and over the course of the cooking time (a good hour, but this will depend on the weight of the turkey) baste with chicken stock.
- Once the turkey is cooked, remove the bacon bards, dry the turkey on kitchen roll and put to one side the remaining juices.
- If you have some truffles, prick your turkey with them.
As per the Second Empire recipe.
- In butter, gently brown the mushrooms that you have chopped into slivers.
- Add the juices mixed with peeled tomatoes.
- Add some Espelette peppers

Type of Recipe