Get one which is plump and young. Clean as usual; do not omit drawing the tendons in the leg and removing the lungs and kidneys; clean and truss as usual. Place on a rack in the dripping pan; brush well with soft butter and dredge with flour. Set in a hot oven and when well browned reduce heat; lay it on the side, turn and brown the other and finally lay it on the back to brown the breast; this ensures an even color. Baste with butter till nicely browned, then add a pint of water and renew if needed. Dredge with flour at every alternate basting. If the cook cannot be trusted to baste often, a hen turkey should be chosen, but the cock has higher flavor and is better for boning, boiling and braising.[farmer note: make up your own basted John Boehner cock-tanning boner joke at this time... and continue]
Allow two hours for an eight pound turkey.... If giblets are not liked in gravy, use them for forcemeat balls, or cook, chop and mix them for stuffing.
I've rendered my own suet many times. Which basically involves boiling fat in a pot on a stove until it is liquid and then allowing it to cool. It was always a for the birds labor of love and will make your kitchen smell like a thousand heart exploding bacon-suns. But I had no idea you could relish it up into a zesty roly-poly and feed it to fellow humans. Until I ran across this old time heirloom formula for:
1 cup suet, chopped fine.
1 cup sweet milk.
2 cups raisins.
1 cup molasses.
2 cups flour.
1 cup currants.
1/4 cup each of citron, lemon and orange peel.
1 teaspoon soda, cinamon, cloves and nutmeg (each).
Steam two hours. This is a very nice pudding. If not wanted so rich, omit fruit entirely or use one cup raisins. Serve with any good sauce either hard or liquid.
[farmer note: I prefer to serve this with a hard rum sauce or a maple fondant, and a pack of commercially sold cigarettes. Also too note: may attract wild birds if served outdoors]
For the guests who aren't vegetarians:
Calf's Head with Torture Sauce
Take out the brains and lay them in ice-cold salted water. Wash the head thoroughly and cover with cold water, boil until the flesh will drop from the bones; lift from the kettle and take out every bone; put the kettle, with the water in which the head was boiled, back on the range, and add to it a knuckle of ham. When this soup has boiled three hours gently, strain it into a stone jar, and leave it until the next day for mock turtle soup.
Cut the thick skin and flesh of the calf's head into two-inch strips and keep it warm.
Make the Torture Sauce thus: One and one-half pints of brown consomme, one bay leaf, the liquor from half a can of mushrooms, half a can of tomatoes; boil about fifteen minutes and strain. Put it back into a sauce-pan with a dozen mushrooms cut into halves, one truffle chopped finely, and one large wineglass of sherry. Let it boil for five minutes, stirring in at the last one teaspoon of blended flour; boil up once and pour over calf's head.
Garnish with new beets sliced, water cresses or parsley.
[farmer note: if you do not have a stone jar readily available you may substitute an empty five gallon (washed and rinsed) plastic drywall joint compound bucket]
[farmer note: aka, Boned Turkey Jello. The kids will love it!]
Jelly for Boned Turkey
Strain the broth in which it [the turkey] was cooked and skim off every speck of grease. Let boil for five minutes, then pour it over one ounce of well soaked gelatine. Crack into another bowl the whites and shells of two eggs, juice of one-half lemon, one gill of Maderia wine and whisk them all well together. Add the soup very slowly, stirring fast with a wire whip. Place over a moderate fire and let come gently to a boil. Simmer a few minutes until there is a thick scum like leather.
Hold this back with a skimming spoon while the clear soup is poured into a flannel bag to filter. Set to cool overnight and it will be fit for use.
[farmer note]: Photos are from the Macy's Day Parade circa 1930s. All the recipes above are actual recipes, which appear in my copy of the Gold Medal Flour (Christmas Edition) Cookbook, originally published in 1904. Let me know if - when - you want the recipes for Clam Toast, Prune Kringles or Smelts Garnish.