Mary Randolph’s Recipe for Roast Turkey, 1828

Move over, Paula Deen!  Generations before the Food Network, the leading lady of Southern cookery was Mary Randolph.  Her book,  The Virginia Housewife, is considered the first American regional cookbook. The Virginia Housewife was very influential, with multiple editions printed during the first half of the nineteenth century.

Randolph aimed to streamline processes in the kitchen, noting “method is the soul of management.”  For all you busy Thanksgiving cooks out there, here’s her methodical approach to roast turkey:

TO ROAST A TURKEY.
Make the forcemeat thus: take the crumb of a loaf of bread, a quarter of a pound of beef suet shred fine, a little sausage meat or veal scraped and pounded very fine, nutmeg, pepper, and salt to your taste; mix it lightly with three eggs, stuff the craw with it, spit it, and lay it down a good distance from the fire, which should be clear and brisk; dust and baste it several times with cold lard; it makes the froth stronger than basting it with the hot out of the dripping pan, and makes the turkey rise better; when it is enough, froth it up as before, dish it, and pour on the same gravy as for the boiled turkey, or bread sauce; garnish with lemon and pickles, and serve it up; if it be of a middle size, it will require one hour and a quarter to roast.

View the full text at the Hathi Trust or Find the original in Special Collections

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Kelli Hansen is Print Collections Librarian in Special Collections and Rare Books, where she focuses on outreach, instruction, and reference.

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