Thursday, October 12, 2017

Easily Turn Leftover Turkey into a Great Meal with this Delicious Colonial Era Turkey Hash

Benjamin Franklin enjoyed fine turkey dinners in Philadelphia, London, and Passy, France. Yet he attached special importance to this native bird. Nearly a century before Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day, Benjamin Franklin declared that the turkey should be the national bird instead of the bald eagle.  

Franklin made the suggestion from France where he was serving as America's leading diplomat during the American Revolution. He wrote his daughter Sally, back in Philadelphia. “For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . the first of the species seen in Europe being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles the ninth. He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.” 

Ben enjoyed a tasty relationship with the stalwart fowl. 

When he lived in London during two tours of diplomatic duty from 1758-1762 and 1764-1775 he met some of his distant British cousins. Over the years they would send turkeys from their farms which Franklin shared with his friend and landlady Mrs. Margaret Stevenson and her family. Benjamin wrote back to his relatives that the birds were delicious.

And a few turkeys took an unwitting part in his electrical experiments. At their meetings in his Philadelphia home he and his fellow budding scientists found the cooked birds to be "uncommonly good to eat." 
This recipe for what was called Turkey Hash in Franklin's day is really more of a
creamed leftover dish. It is from Chapter 7 of Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin--
Theoretical Discovers, Practical Innovations: Capturing Electricity and Cooking Turkey

Turkey Hash

This early American recipe, adapted from period sources, turns the sometimes dreaded Thanksgiving leftover turkey into a delicious meal. Mace, an aromatic spice from the ground shell of the nutmeg, is one unusual ingredient here. The other is Mushroom Catsup which isn't like tomato ketchup at all. It is a thin seasoning that is the essence of mushrooms combined with salt and other seasonings, wine or brandy. It can be found online or you may substitute the more easily available Worcestershire sauce. 

2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
1 cup leftover turkey gravy
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 tablespoon Mushroom Catsup or Worcestershire sauce 

Mix the flour and butter together into a smooth paste. Put the rest of the rest of the ingredients, except the turkey, into a large skillet. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the flour and butter paste and stir until the sauce thickens. Add the turkey and heat through.  

Serves 6 generously. 

Adapted from period sources.

Copyright 2017 Rae Katherine Eighmey. All rights reserved.