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Home > Recipe Pit > MEAT LOCKER


Thompson's Turkey

Recipe by: Guess!

Prep time:


16-22 pound turkey, WITH NECK SKIN LEFT ON!!

Stock for basting:
gizzard, neck, & heart from turkey
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coriander
1 clove garlic
4 cups water
1 cup cider

Bowl A:
1 apple, diced
1 orange, peeled and diced
1 can crushed pineapple, drained
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1 can water chestnuts, drained, halved or quartered
3 tbsp preserved ginger, chopped

Bowl B:
2 tsp dry hot mustard
2 tsp caraway seeds
3 tsp celery seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
2-1/2tsp oregano
1 large bay leaf - crushed
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp mace
4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 tsp tumeric
4 large onions - well chopped
6 stalks celery - chopped
1/2 tsp marjoram
4 cloves - remove the heads and crush
1/2 tsp savory (summer savory if possible)
1 tbsp poultry seasoning

Bowl C:
3 pkgs unseasoned breadcrumbs (fresh, if possible)
3/4 lb ground veal
1/4 lb fresh pork
1/4 lb butter
fat rendered from turkey

Bowl D: Coating Paste:
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Coleman's mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp onion Juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Begin by making a stock from the gizzard, neckbones, heart, and kidneys. Place them in a pot with 4 cups of cold water. Place over a medium heat until the stock comes to the simmer and a scum begins to form. Skim all off with a large spoon. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and add all the seasonings: the bay leaf, coriander, paprika, and garlic, salt & pepper. Cover leaving the lid just a little ajar, being sure that the stock simmers, but doesn't boil.

Clean the bird, rinsing both inside and out. Dry very well with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper all around. Remove as much of the fat from the turkey as you can find and cut loose. Place this fat into a small pan and cook over a med-low heat until it is almost all melted (rendered) into a liquid. Don't let the remaining pieces burn.

Make the dressing by beginning with all the ingredients listed above in their respective bowls. One by one mix the contents of bowls A, B. & C well. Then mix them all together into a large bowl. Mix it well. "Mix it with your hands. Mix it until your forearms and wrists ache. Then mix it some more. Now toss it so it won't be a doughy mass." Stuff the turkey with this dressing but not too tightly because it will swell a bit. Seal the turkey by skewering the opening and tying it shut. Then if you have some stuffing left, stuff the neck tube and tie it shut.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, preferably on a rack, breast down. Make the coating paste by mixing the yolks, mustard, garlic, onion juice, salt, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice. Mix well. Add enough flour, mixing, to form a fairly stiff, but still spread able paste, and place a pastry brush close by.

Place the turkey in the oven, just until it has browned all over. Remove it from the oven and turn the heat down to 325 degrees. While the turkey is hot, paint it ALL over with the paste. But it back into the oven. After a few minutes, when the paste has set, remove it again from the oven, and paint it again. Be sure to cover every bit of the turkey, \"every nook and cranny.\" Put it back into the oven. Repeat until there is no more paste left.

Now add the cup of cider to the stock, and turn the heat down so the stock just stays warm, but doesn't cook any more. Stir it well. This is the basting liquid. If it runs low, replenish it with half cider and half (previously made) stock. Baste the turkey every 15 minutes. (12-15 times). After the turkey has cooked an hour and a half, turn it on it's stomach, and let it cook in that position until the last 30 minutes, when you should place it upright again. It should cook 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours depending on size.

If you wish to make gravy, do it in your usual way.

Additional informatio reported from actual site visitors as follows:

2003 Here is a real life tip on what NOT to do if you try this recipe:

About 30 years ago I was living in Southern California. The Sunday LA Times used to include the old PARADE magazine. One Sunday a recipe for a turkey that was roasted that ended up with an ugly black shell was described that sounded very intriguing. Somehow the PARADE copy was lost. I thought nothing of it assuming that the recipe would be easy to replace. Some time later I tried to find the same recipe...I even checked with the Times for old copies...well to make a long story short...for at least 25 years I have had my ear out to hear of a similar recipe. I don't know if Thompson's is the same recipe; I don't remember the accompanying stuffing, etc. All I remember is the hard, ugly crust and the promise of temptingly delicious, extraordinarily tender turkey.
Back in those days we did not have the benefit of the internet or web pages like yours. Just a bit ago, this being Thanksgiving, I thought I would give the world a chance...again...and entered a search line on Google: turkey recipe hard black salt. Your Thompson's Turkey recipe popped up. I'm very grateful to you and whether I ever get the recipe cooked or otherwise...I thank you VERY much! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wade W. Ah You, age 66
(for the curious, I am from Hawaii now living in Fremont, California. I am 1/4 Hawaiian, 1/4 Chinese, and 1/2 Russian...married to a Macedonian
for whatever all that minutia is worth!)

And later that weekend...............................


I thought I'd let you know how my experience with Thompson's Turkey turned
out. Awful! Let me explain.

Following the directions exactly...the stuffing was not to our liking,
purely a matter of taste however.

The real problem was with the bird. The instructions had me turning the
turkey around too many times. That activity was too difficult with a hot
bird in a hot roasting pan and caused the skin to rip (the bird's, not

The basting paste was too difficult to apply in an even and complete coating
and I'm not sure that the timing was correct as to when to add it to the

The combination of the broken skin and the difficulty in keeping a even
layer of paste over the bird as it had to be turned was the cause of
incomplete coverage and the result was a dry, black bird.

Two things, as you can see, are necessary to make the technique acceptable
(imagine having to turn a 28 pound turkey full of stuffing and hot from a
500 degree oven)...

First, figure out a way to coat the bird with paste without turning it by
had (like a rotisserie?), and
Second...better instructions on the texture of a paste that will adhere to
all parts of a very hot, oily bird.

Still, it was an experiment I had looked forward to for years, and I'm glad
I did it. I may not want to do it again, according to the book, but I think
I learned enough to experiment with a technique of my own that may result in
the glowing description of how it should have ended up!

Best regards and happy holidays,


Thank you Wade for your valuable contribution.

2004 Robert's Reply to WADE'S experience is as follows!

I've been wanting to cook this turkey since the 1960s when Canadian
author, Pierre Berton, prepared it on his B&W television program. The
preparation was part of his family's celebration. I tried it with my
family at the time, and encountered the same problem as described by

Three families assembled for this year's Canadian Thanksgiving; and
yesterday we cooked the turkey according to Morton Thompson's
instructions. We made a few simple changes to the original recipe. We
heated the oven to 550 degrees. The bird went in, breast down, as
instructed, to brown the skin. We took it out and coated as much as
we could and put in back in to dry the paste. We took it out and did
a second coat of paste. When that was dry we turned the bird. I did
it with oven mitts... I picked up turkey, and as gently as I could
put it back down with the breast up. And painted on more paste
everywhere that needed it. Oh, we made several extra batches of the
paste. And when that was set we gave it a second coat. Somewhere in
here we dropped the temp to 350 degrees. We basted every 15 minutes,
as required by the recipe.

A few times I turned the bird around the vertical axis because the
back of the oven was hotter than the front. We never took it off the
rack until the temperature of the stuffing and meat indicated that
the bird was done.

The turkey was free range, organically fed, and fresh killed and
butchered by the Alder wood Farm butcher shop here on Bowen Island. So
we started with an outstanding 20 lb. bird.

After my problems 40 years ago, the anticipation of cooking, basting
and waiting was high drama. The general agreement among those who
consumed it was that this was the best turkey we've ever had!

I thought you'd be interested.

Best wishes... Robert

Hey now... THAT'S the way to go! Thanks so much for YOUR interest!

Here is a link to ROBERT'S WEB SITE. Pretty cool!

2004 Another variation with some helpful information:

I got to your site looking up "Thompson's Turkey" recipe. The snippet I got wanted to know if anyone has ever made the recipe. I made it exactly as described by Richard Gehman in the "Haphazard Gourmet" about 3-4 times in the 1970's. I still have the original book. It is as delicious as described but a pain in the neck to make. The only modification is that the material to make the crust was increased 5-6 times. For the last 30 years I have made the dressing every Thanksgiving, initially stuffing the bird, but more recently making the dressing in the oven. Not quite as good as the original but still worth the trouble. I do not know the date of the comments on your website but I am answering anyway. Karl J. Kramer, M.D.

Very nice! Thanks!!!

Bless us oh lord, for these gifts which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen. Visit Hickory Works!

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