Mrs Beeton's Christmas Turkey


Mrs Beeton's Turkey


  • Intro

    Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was first published in 1861. It not only contains over 2000 recipes, but is also a complete guide to running a household. The book catered for the increasingly frenetic lifestyle of an expanding middle class. Many of its readers will have been entering into an unfamiliar way of life, having recently stepped up the social ladder, and the book offers all sorts of essential advice: how to choose friends and acquaintances; how to dress; how to receive morning calls, or to seat guests at the dinner table. However, Mrs Beeton made it plain that the mistress of the house was not expected to dirty her hands. Instead she should delegate responsibility - the majority of Beeton's instructions are designed to be carried out by servants. The book contains meticulously detailed advice on the duties of a wide variety of staff - cooks, dairy maids, nurse maids, valets, lady's-maids, footmen and the like - all of whom would have been expected to operate under the watchful command of their employer.


    Isabella Beeton (1836-65) was married to the publisher Samuel Beeton, whose most successful venture was the 'Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine'. Isobella was largely responsible for the production of the magazine, taking charge of the cookery pages, reading all the proofs, and devising the layout. Household Management first appeared in monthly parts in the magazine. She died when she was only 28 having contracted puerperal fever.

    . Here Mrs Beeton describes 'Christmas dinner with the middle classes of this empire'. She conjures up a cosy image of a father at the dinner table 'carving his own fat turkey', writing that she 'can hardly imagine an object of greater envy'.


    Shelfmark: c133 c5

  • Audio

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  • Transcript

    Mrs Beeton's Christmas Turkey



    1005. A noble dish is a turkey, roast or boiled. A Christmas dinner with the middle classes of this empire, would scarcely be a Christmas dinner without its turkey; and we can hardly imagine an object of greater envy than is presented by a respected portly pater-familias carving, at the season devoted to good cheer and genial charity, his own fat turkey, and carving it well. The only art consists, as in the carving of a goose, in getting from the breast as many fine slices as possible; and all must have remarked the very great difference in the large number of people whom a good carver will find slices for, and the comparatively few that a bad carver will succeed in serving. As we have stated in both the carving of a duck and goose, the carver should commence cutting slices close to the wing from, 2 to 3, and then proceed upwards towards the ridge of the breastbone: this is not the usual plan, but, in practice will be found the best. The breast is the only part which is looked on as fine in a turkey, the legs being very seldom cut off and eaten at table: they are usually removed to the kitchen, where they are taken off, as here marked, to appear only in a form which seems to have a special attraction at a bachelor’s supper-table, - we mean devilled: served in this way, they are especially liked and relished.


    A boiled turkey is carved in the same manner as when roasted.

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