Thanksgiving 1951 (Ladies' Home Journal, November 1951)
by Ann Batchelder
Originally printed in the November 1951 issue of Ladies' Home Journal
I have a blue platter. No doubt many of you have also a blue platter, with the picture of a bold and lovely turkey in the center, and around the edge a motto reading "Let Us Be Thankful. Thanksgiving 1881."
Quite a number of Thanksgivings have come and gone since that platter was new. And the miracle is that it has passed through many hands, yet not a crack, not a chip, not a single misadventure has marred its seventy years of perfection. This particular platter was designed to accommodate, with appropriate garnishments, a noble bird of ample proportions, say around twenty-five to thirty pounds or maybe bigger. It's a far cry from the size they call a turkey platter nowadays.
Thanksgivings come and go. The celebration of Thanksgiving has been going on for a long, long time. And my platter evokes memories as clear and scenes as poignant as this very Thanksgiving you are about to add to the twice-told tales of the years that are gone. And of these, the blue platter would, if it could speak, tell in the firelight of dreams and remembrances never to fade and never to fade and never to grow old while memory abides.
Youth must be served. So many times I've described and discussed the old-time Thanksgiving dinner, paying tribute in my way to its oyster stew, pumpkin pie and plum pudding, not to mention other eatables of the time we have a 1951 version of the feast. Only the older, more "set in their ways: have to get out the roaster and go at the turkey, stuff and prepare the last traditional step the bird that for so many years has come to hold the center of the stage for Thanksgiving Day - the home-coming and gathering together of family and friends. Home to Thanksgiving. That's the theme song we may never forget whether there's turkey or not.
Let us look forward. This year we've added a new leaf to our collection of traditions. This year the younger set are taking over. And here's how they're starting to do their stuff. We who are older can stick to the old ways - but you never know. We may be converted yet. Let us see. Let's look into what we're up to and start with a shrimp cocktail at its magnificent best. One where caviar noses in to the delight and satisfaction of all.
Menu (Planned for 6)
Shrimp Cocktail - Caviar Sauce
Pecan Stuffing - Turkey Gravy
Broccoli with Black Butter
Onions in Bread Sauce
Shrimp Cocktail - Caviar Sauce
Cook 2 pounds raw shrimp in water enough to cover, adding celery tops, sprigs of parsley, 2 slices lemon, salt and pepper. Simmer until tender - about 20 minutes. Shell and clean shrimp when cool. You may buy frozen cooked and cleaned shrimp, and they will do a first-rate job for you. For the sauce, mix ¼ cup chili sauce, ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon minced dill pickle and 5 teaspoons red caviar. This is really only salmon roe, so don't let the name scare you. Add a dash of Tabasco, a little salt and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Arrange the chilled shrimp on a few greens or a little chopped lettuce in glasses set in ice. Pour the sauce over them.
Try a turkey broiler for size. There's a lot to be said for broiled turkey. You can have as much or as little as you want. The preparation is simple and you don't even have to have a roaster. And you can have turkey stuffing - that I insist on and this is how we manage it.
Turkey Broiler With Pecan Stuffing
Pick out a fine young turkey broiler weighing about 6 pounds. Have the turkey split in half lengthwise. Clean, remove the pin-feathers and cut off the wing tips. In short, fix up the bird as if he were a 20-pounder. Tuck ends of wings under back. Skewer the legs to the body. Brush well with melted butter or margarine. Season each half with ¼ teaspoon salt and a sprinkling of pepper. Rub a little poultry seasoning on the inside. That's the trick that makes a broiler taste like a roast turkey. Put the turkey stuffing in the broiler pan and cover with the broiler rack. Put the turkey halves over the stuffing on the rack, skin side down. Place in the broiler 7" from the heat. Cook slowly for 1 hour under medium broiler heat. Turn and brush with melted butter or margarine several times during the 1-hour cooking period. Cook until the thickest part of the drumstick is very tender when tried with a fork, and there is no pink visible inside.
Nuts in the stuffing. I was always one to like nuts in stuffing, even in old-fashioned sage stuffing. Now I have fixed you a wonderful stuffing. (Don't call it "dressing." You stuff a turkey or chicken, don't you? You don't dress it. It knows nothing of a dress, morning or afternoon or evening.) So get hold of plenty of those big, fat, handsome pecans, and follow along with all the savories and herbs you like best. (Don't skimp on the sage. Sage was made for turkey. Sage, the herb that Piny loved and caressed with words as soft as the velvet leaves of that incomparable plant. I hope you've grown some and don't be stingy with it. Don't skimp.)
Sauté 2 medium onions, chopped (they'll come to around ¾ cup), in ¼ cup butter or margarine until the onions are transparent. Mix with 1 loaf white bread (not too fresh) which has been crumbled and lightly toasted and not crusts. The best way is to buy unsliced, day-old bread, cut off end slice and pull the crumbs from the center of the loaf. Add ½ cup finely chopped pecans, 1 tablespoon sage, ¾ cup chopped celery, 2 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup canned chicken broth. Mix thoroughly.
What is turkey sans gravy? There's something lacking in any turkey dinner without gravy, seasoned to a queen's taste - that is, if the queen is a gourmet. And this is how you can achieve gray with your turkey:
Sometime during the day - don't wait until you're ready to broil the turkey - cut off the neck (you have the wing tips too) and put these in a saucepan with the giblets. Brown them well in 1 tablespoon hot shortening, stirring frequently. Add 1 can chicken broth and ¾ cup water, 1 onion, chopped, and a little salt. Cover and simmer until giblets are tender. Strain. Discard neck and wing tips. Chop giblets fine. Add to the strained broth. Thicken with 1½ tablespoons flour, made smooth with 2 tablespoons water. Season to taste. If gravy has cooked down, you may have to add a little more chicken broth after you thicken it. If giblets are very fatty, you may have to skim broth before thickening. Reheat when ready to serve.
Streamlined vegetables. There was a time when practically all members of the fall vegetable family were represented at the Thanksgiving feast. ow we settle for two and for those who like bread sauce, we have combined the traditional onions with the sauce and made a dish that is so good it's a natural for many dinners to come.
Onions in Bread Sauce
Peel about 2 pounds small white onions and cook in boiling salted water until tender. While they are cooking, heat 1 quart milk with 1 onion in which 8 cloves have been stuck, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper and 2 cups fine stale bread crumbs. Cook over boiling water for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion and cloves. Drain the boiled onions and add to the sauce with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Turn into a casserole, top with 1 cup bread crumbs that have been sautéed in butter or margarine until lightly browned. Sprinkle with paprika, dot with butter or margarine and run under the broiler until the top is crisp. This dish may be made up ahead and reheated. In fact, it's improved if the onions and sauce stand together awhile.
Broccoli With Black Butter
Cook broccoli as usual. Heat 6 tablespoons butter in a small frying pan until well browned. Add the juice of 1 lemon and pour over the broccoli just before serving.
If salad is indispensable. Personally, I would just as soon skip the salad and take a second helping of turkey and stuffing. But, if there is to be a salad, it should provide an interlude in the meal and create a change of mood. Foot-loose and fancy free, here is such a salad for this meal or almost any other you may have in mind.
Peel and core 6 small apples. Have ready a pan large enough to hold the apples without crowding. Cook the apples until tender in 2 cups water, 1 cup sirup drained from canned, crushed pineapple, 1 cup sugar and a little red coloring. Be careful that the apples do not lose their shape. Drain and cool. Put each apple into an individual mold and fill the center loosely with drained, crushed, canned pineapple. Soften 1 envelope unflavored gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Add to 1½ cups hot liquid from cooking apples, plus ¼ cup lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Pour the gelatin mixture over the apples, covering them well. Chill. To serve, unmold each aspic on lettuce. Serve with mayonnaise.
The pumpkin and the mince. It doesn't take a day's baking to achieve the pies for this Thanksgiving dinner. You make only one crust instead of four, and yet you have both pumpkin and mince and keep faith with tradition. What could be better than that?
Combination Pumpkin-Mince Pie
Line a 9" pie plate with pastry. Crimp the edges. Spread 2 cups mincemeat over the bottom. Bake in a hot oven, 425° F., for 15 minutes. While this bakes, mix together ⅓ cup brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ginger and ¼ teaspoon cloves. Mix spice mixture with 1 cup canned strained pumpkin. Beat 2 eggs slightly and add to ¾ cup evaporated milk or cream. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Mix thoroughly. Set oven temperature to moderate - 350° F. Let the oven cool slightly. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the mincemeat. Bake in a moderate oven until the pumpkin custard is set - takes about 35 minutes. Serve with good old sage cheese - if you've been by that country store up Weston way in the hills of old Vermont.
Have a happy Thanksgiving. The best of holidays to all of you. May your favorite football boys win. And remember that things may sound a bit strange but turn out to be like egrets as against a crow's wing. You keep this in mind. I'm going to. The End.