persist about this recipe. This blackened turkey is part of
the 1930s legends associated with Harold Ross and The New Yorker's
team of contributing writers. First thought to have been contained
in a manuscript given to Robert Benchley by Morton Thompson,
this highly seasoned and ultimately blackened turkey pops up
Perhaps to console his conscience (Benchley, it is said, lost
Thompson's manuscript titled, The
Naked Countess) this recipe became
part lore, part recitation, and part of an annual holiday toast
that Benchley included in his repertoire. We provide this to
perpetuate the traditions of blackened holidays and crusty family
A Seasoned Blackened Turkey
:: Serve to spiced New Yorkers
The Plot. This recipe combines the wistfulness of a lost manuscript,
the piquant spice of a member of Dorothy Parker's Circle of
Vicious (Robert Benchley), and our own tip of our hat to
the disappearing art and tradition of all-day cooking methods.
The result. This turkey redemption is succulent and fully fleshed
The character: Spicy Robert Benchley (of Algonquin Round Table
and 1930s film legend):
turkey is work... it requires more attention than an average
six-month-old baby. There are no shortcuts, as you will see.
a HUGE turkey-- I don't mean just a big, big bird, but one that
looks as though it gave the farmer a hard time when he did it
ought to weigh between 16 and 30 pounds. Have the poultryman,
butcher, cut its head off at the end of the neck, peel back
and remove the neck close to the body, leaving the tube. You
this for stuffing. Also , he should leave all the fat on the
you are ready to cook your bird, rub it inside and out with
and pepper. Give it a friendly pat and set it aside. Chop the
gizzard, and liver and put them, with the neck, into a stew
pan with a
clove of garlic, a large bay leaf, 1/2 tsp coriander, and some
don't know how much salt-- whatever you think. Cover this with
cups of water and put on the stove to simmer. This will be the
fluid a little later.
this time I generally have my first drink of the day, usually
a RAMOS FIZZ. I concoct it by taking the whites of four eggs,
amount of whipping cream, juice of half a lemon (less 1 tsp.),
1/2 tsp. confectioner's sugar, an appropriate amount of gin,
and blending with a
few ice cubes. Pour about two tablespoons of club soda in a
chimney glass, add the mix, with ice cubes if you prefer. Save
your egg yolks,
plus 1 tsp. of lemon -- you'll need them later. Have a good
sip! (add 1 dash of Orange Flower Water to the drink, not the
a huge bowl. Throw into it one diced apple, one diced orange,
a large can of crushed pineapple, the grated rind of a lemon,
and three tablespoons of chopped preserved ginger (If you like
ginger, double this -REB). Add 2 cans of drained Chinese water
this altogether, and have another sip of your drink. Get a second,
somewhat smaller, bowl. Into this, measuring by teaspoons, put:
2 tsp hot dry mustard
2 tsp caraway seed
2 tsp celery seed
2 tsp poppy seed
1 tsp black pepper
2 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp savory
3/4 tsp sage
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp chili powder
the same bowl, add:
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
4 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp salt
4 headless crushed cloves
1 well-crushed bay leaf
4 lrg chopped onions
6 good dashes Tabasco
5 crushed garlic cloves
6 lrg chopped celery
your brow, refocus your eyes, get yet another drink--and a third
bowl. Put in three packages of unseasoned bread crumbs (or two
loaves of toast or bread crumbs), 3/4 lb. ground veal, 1/2 lb.
ground fresh pork, 1/4 lb. butter, and all the fat you have
been able to pull out of the bird.
now it seems advisable to switch drinks. Martinis or stingers
are recommended (Do this at your own risk - we always did! -REB).
Get a fourth bowl, an enormous one. Take a sip for a few minutes,
wash your hands, and mix the contents of all the other bowls.
Mix it well. Stuff the bird and skewer it. Put the leftover
stuffing into the neck tube.
your oven to 500 degrees F and get out a fifth small bowl. Make
a paste consisting of those four egg yolks and lemon juice left
from the Ramos Fizz. Add 1 tsp hot dry mustard, a crushed clove
of garlic, 1 Tbl onion juice, and enough flour to make a stiff
paste. When the oven is red hot, put the bird in, breast down
on the rack. Sip on your drink until the bird has begin to brown
all over, then take it out and paint the bird all over with
paste. Put it back in and turn the oven down to 350 degrees
F. Let the paste set, then pull the bird out and paint
again. Keep doing this until the paste is used up.
a quart of cider or white wine to the stuff that's been simmering
on the stove, This is your basting fluid. The turkey must be
15 minutes. Don't argue. Set your timer and keep it up. (When
confronted with the choice "do I baste from the juice under
the bird or do I baste
with the juice from the pot on the stove?" make certain
that the juice under the bird neither dries out and burns, nor
becomes so thin that
gravy is weak. When you run out of baste, use cheap red wine.
This critter makes incredible gravy! -REB)The bird should cook
minutes per pound, basting every 15 minutes. Enlist the aid
of your friends and family.
the bird cooks, it will first get a light brown, then a dark
brown, then darker and darker. After about 2 hours you will
think I'm crazy.
The bird will be turning black. (Newcomers to black turkey will
think you are demented and drunk on your butt, which, if you've
instructions, you are -REB) In fact, by the time it is finished,
it will look as though we have ruined it. Take a fork and poke
at the black
the bird will be a gorgeous mahogany, reminding one of those
golden-browns found in precious Rembrandts. Stick the fork too
the juice will gush to the ceiling. When you take it out, ready
to carve it, you will find that you do not need a knife. A load
sound will cause
the bird to fall apart like the walls of that famed biblical
city. The moist flesh will drive you crazy, and the stuffing--well,
nothing like it on this earth. You will make the gravy just
like it as always done, adding the giblets and what is left
of the basting fluid.
during the meal, use a moment to give thanks to Morton Thompson.
There is seldom, if ever, leftover turkey when this recipe is
used. If there is, you'll find that the fowl retains its moisture
for a few days. That's all there is to it. It's work, hard work---
worth it. What follows is not part of the recipe, but is an
ingredients list to aid in shopping for this monster, or for
checking your spice cabinet
1 lrg can crushed pineapple
4 lrg onions
6 celery stalks
plenty of preserved ginger
2 cans water chestnuts
3 packages unseasoned bread crumbs
3/4 lb ground veal
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 lb butter
1 qt apple cider
Let us know what the results are for you and this bird.
And we wish you a great holiday, filled with spirit, spice,
and enduring legends.
Benchley, known by many as a quirky storyteller, moved to California
after spending years writing in New York. Often part of the
untamed lunches held at the historic Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan,
he joined his friends who were known to the world as The Algonquin
Round Table (and to insiders as Dorothy Parker's Vicious Circle).
Another delightful storyteller, and one of the few gay members
of this elite group, Alexander Woollcott, would heartily testify
to the biting humor of the group. They nicknamed him Louis May
Woollcott. Other members of the group included Edna Ferber,
Jane Grant, and George S. Kaufman.
satchel for those who are wordsmitten
crazy cat lady plastic action figure asks, how many
cats do you have?
We say, not enough.
for the sassy and talented who fear nothing but rejection
searches for gifts that amuse and entertain. Really, who
needs another tie.
wordsmitten.com brings you whimsical gifts for every
are wonderful people and just like regular folk, they
love to give and receive gifts. So, visit our Gift
searched the globe for places that our provide writers,
artists, actors, and all the creatively talented people
who love our site with something fun, something quirky.
If you have a sense of humor, this is the place to find
whimsical gifts. Select wonderful items from WordSmitten's
gift ideas. Support our sponsors. They help us to provide
more scholarships. We like the fact that they support