Day 353 Roast Turkey with Sweet Potato Dressing

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noel! I know it is one week early but today I am preparing a 1906 Christmas Dinner for six guests. They bid on this dinner during a talent and time auction. The menu I’ve created includes some things I’ve made before:

Today’s recipe from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book is the main dish — Roast Turkey with Sweet Potato Dressing. It was contributed by Mrs. J. B. Brown.  I decided to take a chance making an unfamiliar recipe for guests but at least I know how to roast a turkey.

I bought the turkey and the sweet potatoes from the Kitchener Market on Saturday. The turkey is Ontario raised and surprisingly the sweet potatoes are local Waterloo Region.  And yes they were sweet potatoes not yams. I boiled the six small sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes and then peeled them. I mashed them and found I had exactly 1 quart (4 cups). I added the butter first and let it melt in the hot sweet potatoes. After it cooled a little I added the bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings.

Roast Turkey with Sweet Potato Dressing

Roast Turkey with Sweet Potato Dressing

I prepared the turkey (about 15 lbs) and stuffed the larger part with the sweet potato dressing. At about 2:00 pm I put the turkey uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes and then reduced the heat to 330 degrees and covered the turkey. I didn’t even baste it as I completely forgot. I took the turkey out of the oven about 5:45 and let it rest. I removed the sweet potato dressing and carved the turkey.

I’m afraid Mrs. J. B. Brown has to be a mystery for now. I can’t find a J. B. Brown or even a John or Joseph Brown who uses the initial B. This leaves a number of possibilities and I’m just too tired tonight to sort through the men of appropriate age with wives.

My guests arrived promptly at 6 pm and I greeted them wearing 1906 style clothing. After some hot mulled apple cider in the living room we sat down in my new dining room to our salad course. I was very fortunate to have my two god children helping me. They served and cleaned up and helped prep as well including remembering napkins and making cranberry sauce. It was very nice to get a glimpse into the world of 1906 when many women had help (or children) to assist. One is 18 and the other 20 which is a very typical age for young people to be in service in the homes of neighbours or well off city folk.

After the salad course we plated the main meal of turkey, sweet potato dressing, sage and onion dressing (in case the sweet potato one was “icky”), Julienne Potatoes, and boiled carrots. I added a little ginger to the carrots. Several guests brought wine to accompany the meal. Next I brought in the hot fruit pudding flaming with brandy and we ate it with hard sauce. We retired to the living room with coffee, sugar cookies, and lap cookies, and were treated to a musical performance by a violinist. She played all sorts of beautiful and fun pieces including some Christmas music. She had selected some music that would suit the atmosphere of the 1906 era. One of the couples had bid on the violinist as part of the time and talent auction.

The guests all seemed to enjoy the food and the entertainment. There were seconds on the fruit pudding and hard sauce, and a bit of a recipe exchange around the sweet potato dressing. It was really good and I would definitely make it again inside or outside the turkey. We also had a discussion about boiled dressings. I was pleased to show that the 1906 Berlin Cook Book is still a valuable resource today and the food of 1906 can also enjoyed in 2012.

Mrs. J. B. Brown
Prepare turkey, salt and pepper inside and add this stuffing, 1 quart boiled sweet potatoes, mashed or chopped fine. Mix a cup of bread crumbs, 1/4 cup butter, 1 beaten egg, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a little paprika, stuff turkey and bake.

This entry was posted in Christmas, Cooking, Food History, Kitchener, Main, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Day 353 Roast Turkey with Sweet Potato Dressing

  1. Laurie says:

    Sounds fabulous! Can you post a photo of yourself in 1906 clothing?

  2. What a great idea! I bet that was a lot of fun. Reminds me of when we used to host Murder Mystery dinners. A big part of the fun was preparing the themed food (one was from the Roaring Twenties, for example) and dressing up.

  3. Piet Beukes says:

    Turducken – Turkey stuffed with duck, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a whatever you prefer – can be fruity or spicy. Recipe in your post must have been something special.

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