I purchased a cook book, Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book and Young Housekeepers' Assistant (New and Enlarged Edition, 1867) at the Limited Unlimited (or was it Unlimited Limited?) Antique Store, formerly on Midway just north of Beltline. The Boy would go for batting practice at DBAT, and I would run down to check out what the excellent book dealer had in stock. It was not an inexpensive book at $85.00, but when scraps of old hand-written recipes and newspaper clippings started falling from between it's aged pages, you might as well have stamped "Sold" on my forehead.
So with Thanksgiving coming up, how was a turkey prepared 141 years ago? Well if you were lucky enough to live in a home that could afford a book on cooking, you likely had a spit and could roast a bird over the fire. For those less fortunate a recipe for boiling said bird is also included.
A turkey should be well singed and cleaned of pin-feathers; then draw the inwards. Be sure you take everything out that is inside. Lay the turkey into cold water; clean the gizzards, liver, heart, and neck; let all soak one hour if you have time. Wash all very clean, wipe the turkey very dry, inside and out. Make a dressing of two cups of bread-crums (sic), one teaspoon of salt, two large spoonfuls of sweet marjoram, two spoonfuls of butter, one egg, and mix them well together. Cut the skin of the turkey in the back part of the neck, that the breast may look plump; fill the breast with the forecemeat, and sew it up. If you have any more forcemeat than is required for the breast, put the remainder into the body, and skewer the vent; tie the legs down very tight, skewer the wings down to the sides, and turn the neck on to the back with a strong skewer. Baste with salt and water once, then frequently with butter; fifteen minutes before dishing, dredge with a little salt and flour, and baste with butter for the last time. This will give a fine frothy appearance, and add to the flavor of the turkey.
To make the gravy, put the gizzard, neck, and liver, into a saucepan with a quart of water, a little pepper, salt and mace; put it on the fire, and let it boil to about half pint. When done, braid up the liver very fine with a knife, and put it back into the water it has boiled in; then add the drippings of the turkey and a little flour, and give it one boil, stirring it all the time. Dish the gizzard with the turkey. Allow twelves minutes to a pound for the time to roast turkey.
A turkey weighing ten pounds requires two hours to roast with a clear fire, not too hot. Turn the spit very often.