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.
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 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.