To dress a turtle the West Indian way

Rate this recipe

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy

By Hannah Glasse

Published 1747

  • About


Take the turtle out of the water the night before you intend to dress it, and lay it on its back, in the morning cut its throat or the head off, and let it bleed well; then cut off the fins, scald, scale and trim them with the head, then raise the callepy (which is the belly or under-shell) clean off, leaving to it as much meat as you conveniently can; then take from the back-shell all the meat and intrails, except the monsieur, which is the fat, and looks green, that must be baked to and with the shell; wash all clean with salt and water, and cut it into pieces of a moderate size, taking from it the bones, and put them with the fins and head in a soop-pot, with a gallon of water, some salt, and two blades of mace. When it boils skim it clean, then put in a bunch of thyme, parsley, savoury and young onions, and your veal part, except about one Pound and a half, which must be made force-meat of as for Scotch collops, adding a little Cayan pepper; when the veal has boiled in the soop about an hour, take it out and cut it in pieces and put to the other part. The guts (which is reckoned the best part) must be split open, scraped and made clean, and cut in pieces about two inches long. The paunch or maw must be scaled and skinned, and cut as the other parts, the size you think proper; then put them with the guts and other parts, except the liver, with half a Pound of good fresh butter, a few shalots, a bunch of thyme, parsley, and a little savoury, seasoned with salt, white pepper, mace, three or four cloves beaten, a little Cayan pepper, and take care not to put too much; then let it stew about half an hour over a good charcoal fire, and put in a Pint and a half of Madeira wine and as much of the broth as will cover it, and let if stew till tender. It will take four or five hours doing. When almost enough, skim it, and thicken it with flour, mixt with some veal broth, about the thickness of a fricasey. Let your force-meat balls be fried about the size of a walnut, and be stewed about half an hour with the rest; if any eggs, let them be boiled and cleaned as you do knots of pullets eggs; and if none, get twelve or fourteen yolks of hard eggs: then put the stew (which is the callepash) into the back-shell, with the eggs all over, and put it into the oven to brown, or do it with a salamander.

The callepy must be slashed in several places, and moderately seasoned, with pieces of butter, mixt with chopped thyme, parsley and young onions, with salt, white pepper and mace beaten, and a little Cayan pepper; put a Piece on each slash, and then some over, and a dust of flour; then bake it in a tin of iron dripping-pan, in a brisk oven.

The backshell (which is called the callepash) must be seasoned as the callepy, and baked in a dripping-pan, set upright, with four brickbats, or any thing else. An hour and a half will bake it, which must be done before the stew is put in.

The fins, when boiled very tender, to be taken out of the soop, and put into a stew-pan, with some good veal gravy, not high-coloured, a little Madeira wine, seasoned and thickened as the callepash, and served in a dish by itself.

The lights, heart and liver, may be done the same way, only a little higher seasoned; or the lights and heart may be stewed with the callepash, and taken out before you put it in the shell, with a little of the sauce, adding a little more seasoning and dish it by itself.

The veal part may be made friandos, or Scotch collops of. The liver should never be stewed with the callepash, but always drest by itself, after any manner you like; except you separate the lights and heart from the callepash, and then always serve then together in one dish. Take care to strain the soop, and serve it in a turreen, or clean china bewel.


A Callepy,

Lights, &c.-Soop-Fins.

Callepash N.B. In the West Indies they generally souse the fins, and eat them cold, omit the liver, and only send to the table the callepy, and soop. This is for a turtle about sixty pounds weight.