The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14669   Message #128152
Posted By: Bill D
26-Oct-99 - 10:24 AM
Thread Name: Mudcat Cookbook fundraiser-post your recipe
Subject: RE: M'Cat Cookbk fundraiser-POST YOUR RECIPE
Since the season is upon us, I will add the recipe for "Thompson's Turkey"...(expecting that many Mudcatters, being an eclectic bunch, may have heard of , or tried it before)

I have cooked this on & off since 1961, and have played with the recipe...tweaking it a bit to suit, as I suppose YOU will...Done right, this is an amazing treat...done haphazardly, it can be disappointing....(I actually had it once using a wild turkey that had died at the local zoo! (no disease...tangled in a fence)...I knew the zoo keeper)

my major change to what follows is to DOUBLE the ingredients for the coating/ need lots to be sure the turkey is well sealed....(like it says...get help!..this is a community project!) This is the recipe where I discovered the difference between a CLOVE of garlic and a BUD of garlic..*grin*...picture 6 people, sitting around a big bowl of stuffing, picking out garlic with tweezers!...well...I was 20 years old...) The Saga of Thompson's Turkey

Morton Thompson was most well known for his best-seller, "Not as a Stranger." Not much of his other work fared as well. He wrote a book of his reminiscences published in 1945 called, "Joe, the Wounded Tennis Player". Not a very popular book, it did contain a rather peculiar turkey recipe. I have run across this recipe from time to time in books and newspapers, and have edited it for you here. It is a recipe for the fearless cook. It takes, as you will find, one with some amount of self confidence to place this dish on the table in front of friends. This is not a simple recipe, but it takes more work than skill. We are assured, however, that the end is worth the means. In the words of Morton Thompson, "If you want a well-cooked dinner, the labor of preparing must be equal to the pleasure of your enjoying....No merchant or wizard can offer for sale or loan the priceless ingredient implicit in whatever food you serve."

This is not a picture-book recipe either. Author Richard Gehman said, "This turkey comes out of the oven looking as though someone had made a fearful mistake. It is covered with a hard, jet-black crust that seems to be a combination of coal and ashes. Guests, when they catch first sight of it. wish that had gone elsewhere for dinner. When they begin to eat it, they realize that they had never known turkey at all." Thompson again. "You will think, 'My God! I have ruined it!' Be calm. Beneath this burnt, harmless, now worthless shell the bird will be golden and dark brown, succulent, giddy-making with wild aromas, crisp and crunchable and crackling. The meat beneath this crazing panorama of lip-wetting skin will be wet ... white, crammed with mocking flavor, delirious with things that rush over your palate and are drowned and gone as fast as you can swallow."

With that precaution and, hopefully, temptation, I give you the recipe for....

Thompson's Turkey -----------------

16-22 pound turkey, WITH NECK SKIN LEFT ON!! salt pepper

Stock for basting: gizzard, neck, & heart from turkey 1 bay leaf 1 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp coriander 1 clove garlic 4 cups water salt pepper 1 cup cider

Bowl A: 1 apple, diced 1 orange, peeled and diced 1 can crushed pineapple, drained grated rind of 1/2 lemon 1 can water chestnuts, drained, halved or quartered 3 tbsp preserved ginger, chopped Bowl B: 2 tsp dry hot mustard 2 tsp caraway seeds 3 tsp celery seeds 2 tsp poppy seeds 2-1/2tsp oregano 1 large bay leaf - crushed 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1/2 tsp mace 4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped 4-5 cloves garlic - minced 1/2 tsp tumeric 4 large onions - well chopped 6 stalks celery - chopped 1/2 tsp marjoram 4 cloves - remove the heads and crush 1/2 tsp savory (summer savory if possible) 1 tbsp poultry seasoning

Bowl C: 3 pkgs unseasoned breadcrumbs (fresh, if possible) 3/4 lb ground veal 1/4 lb fresh pork 1/4 lb butter fat rendered from turkey

Bowl D: Coating Paste: 2 egg yolks 1 tsp Coleman's mustard 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tbsp onion Juice 1/2 tsp salt 2 pinches cayenne pepper 1 tsp lemon juice flour

Begin by making a stock from the gizzard, neckbones, heart, and kidneys. Place them in a pot with 4 cups of cold water. Place over a medium heat until the stock comes to the simmer and a scum begins to form. Skim all off with a large spoon. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and add all the seasonings: the bay leaf, coriander, paprika, and garlic, salt & pepper. Cover leaving the lid just a little ajar, being sure that the stock simmers, but doesn't boil.

Clean the bird, rinsing both inside and out. Dry very well with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper all around. Remove as much of the fat from the turkey as you can find and cut loose. Place this fat into a small pan and cook over a med-low heat until it is almost all melted (rendered) into a liquid. Don't let the remaining pieces burn.

Make the dressing by beginning with all the ingredients listed above in their respective bowls. One by one mix the contents of bowls A, B. & C well. Then mix them all together into a large bowl. Mix it well. "Mix it with your hands. Mix it until your forearms and wrists ache. Then mix it some more. Now toss it so it won't be a doughy mass." Stuff the turkey with this dressing but not too tightly because it will swell a bit. Seal the turkey by skewering the opening and tieing it shut. Then if you have some stuffing left, stuff the neck tube and tie it shut.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, preferably on a rack, breast down. Make the coating paste by mixing the yolks, mustard, garlic, onion juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add enough flour, mixing, to form a fairly stiff, but still spreadable paste, and place a pastry brush close by.

Place the turkey in the oven, just until it has browned all over. Remove it from the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. While the turkey is hot, paint it ALL over with the paste. But it back into the oven. After a few minutes, when the paste has set, remove it again from the oven, and paint it again. Be sure to cover every bit of the turkey, "every nook and cranny." Put it back into the oven. Repeat until there is no more paste left.

Now add the cup of cider to the stock, and turn the heat down so the stock just stays warm, but doesn't cook any more. Stir it well. This is the basting liquid. If it runs low, replenish it with half cider and half (previously made) stock. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes. (12-15 times). After the turkey has cooked an hour and a half, turn it on it's stomach, and let it cook in that position until the last 30 minutes, when you should place it upright again. It should cook 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours depending on size.

If you wish to make gravy, do it in your usual way.


I will close with another passage from Richard Gehman in his book, "The Haphazard Gourmet",

"Thompson did not describe the taste of the stuffing for the simple reason that it is indescribable. It is full of a vast collection of elusive and exotic flavors, of fruit and of greens, bits of crispness and of delicate meats. ... I don't know if [Morton] Thompson is in Heaven or not, but if he is, this must be his second visit. I don't know of any other place where he could have picked up the original inspiration for Thompson's turkey."