To Roast a Turkey

1½ to 2½ hours.


In very cold weather a turkey is its feathers will hang (in an airy larder) quite a fortnight with advantage; and, however fine a quality of bird it may be, unless sufficiently long kept, it will prove not worth the dressing, though it should always be perfectly sweet when prepared for table. Pluck, draw, and singe it with exceeding care; wash, and then dry it thoroughly with clean cloths, or merely wipe the outside well, without wetting it, and pour water plentifully through the inside. Fill the breast with forcemeat (No. 1), or with the finest sausage meat, highly seasoned with minced herbs, lemon-rind, mace, and cayenne. Truss the bird firmly, lay it to a clear sound fire, baste it constantly and bountifully with butter, and serve it when done with good brown gravy, and well-made bread sauce. An entire chain of delicate fried sausages is still often placed in the dish, round a turkey, as a garnish.

It is usual to fold and fasten a sheet of buttered writing paper over the breast to prevent its being too much coloured: this should be removed twenty minutes before the bird is done. The forcemeat of chestnuts (No. 15) may be very advantageously substituted for the commoner kinds in stuffing it, and the body may then be filled with chestnuts, previously stewed until tender in rich gravy, or simmered over a slow fire in plenty of rasped bacon, with a high seasoning of mace, nutmeg, and cayenne, until they are so; or, instead of this, well-made chestnut sauce, or a dish of stewed chestnuts, may be sent to table with the turkey.

Obs. 1.—Baron Liebig’s improved method of roasting will be found at p. 171, and can be followed always instead of the directions given here.

Obs. 2.—A turkey should be laid at first far from the fire, and drawn nearer when half done, though never sufficiently so to scorch it: it should be well roasted, for even the most inveterate advocates of under-dressed meat will seldom tolerate the taste or sight of partially-raw poultry.