James Barber’s Turkey Tremenjus

I recommend any and all of James Barber’s cookbooks. If you follow the link at the bottom of the recipe at his name, there’s a picture of the cookbook and a recipe in his unique cartoon format. He was an engineer who served in World War II but when he became disabled he wrote his first cookbook. Many of his recipes are models for simple but delicious cooking. And how can you not love a recipe for Chinese food entitled Har To Fay Kit?

Start with

  • one turkey, 18 – 22 lb., including giblets

I’m omitting the charming introduction, which boils down to “Organize a team of friends to mix stuffing and baste the turkey intermittently for about five hours. It’ll be delicious!”

Prepare the stuffing

Bowl 1

  • 2 tsp. Coleman’s mustard (plain, yellow but not fluorescent, not hot)
  • 2 tsp. caraway seed
  • 3 tsp. celery seed
  • 2 tsp. poppy seed
  • 2.5 tsp. oregano
  • 1 crushed bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. mace
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 crushed cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 4 large onions chopped fine
  • 6 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp savory
  • 1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Bowl 2

  • 3 pkg. breadcrumbs. (Sorry, I don’t know how big a package is. Try 3 x 4 cups of bread, cubed with a bread knife; then you can use something with flavour like sourdough or whole wheat.)
  • 3/4 lb. ground veal
  • 1/4 lb. ground fresh pork
  • 1/4 lb. butter
  • all the turkey fat you can find, rendered

Bowl 3

  • one orange, diced
  • one apple, diced
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained (and chopped?)
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. preserved ginger, chopped

Basting mixture

You will be basting the turkey with this thrice so be ready to make up three batches.


  • 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
  • enough flour to make paste

Giblet mixture

  1. Simmer for 1 hour:
    • turkey neck
    • turkey gizzard and heart
    • bay leaf
    • garlic clove
    • 1 tsp. paprika
    • 1/2 tsp. coriander
    • 4 cups water
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
  2. Fish out the turkey neck and remove the meat. Chop the heart and gizzard. I’m not sure if you return the meat to the cooking water, but I think so.
  3. Add one cup cider.

Put it all together

  1. Get three friends to help you. Mix Bowls 1, 2, and 3 separately, thoroughly.
  2. Mix the three bowls together, with hands, thoroughly, until you are really tired.
  3. Preheat oven to 500° F (very hot oven).
  4. Stuff the turkey with the mixture and fasten both ends closed with string or skewers.
  5. Massage turkey with warm ands and with pepper and salt.
  6. Put turkey into oven until brown all over. Take it out and turn oven down to 325° F (moderate oven).
  7. Quickly paint the turkey all over with the paste. Put it back into the oven until the paste sets. Do it again twice. You may need to make up three lots of paste.
  8. Return the turkey to the oven after the last coating of paste.
  9. Organize your friends so that the turkey gets basted with the giblet mixture every 15 minutes.
  10. Turn the turkey over when it is half cooked. (For cooking time, estimate 1/4 hour per pound.) Continue basting until it’s done.
  11. When the turkey is cooked, peel off the paste and serve.

This recipe is from James Barber‘s cookbook Ginger Tea Makes Friends.

My only caution would be that for some of his recipes, I tend to cut the salt and spices in half the second time around. I suspect that he smoked.


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