|A spit roast turkey garnished with silver hatelets|
It is Christmas Day. I have already had more than my fair share of roast geese, plumb puddings etc. on my recent Taste of Christmas Past courses and had every intention today of preparing a simple, non-traditional lunch. But a farmer neighbour turned up on the doorstep yesterday evening with a gift in the form of a small, but fine quality bronze turkey. The bird was too good to freeze for another day. So what choice did I have, but to roast it? And in this house, all roasting takes place in front of a roaring fire, not in the oven.
Now a nice, easy way to roast a large bird like a goose or turkey is with a clockwork bottle jack in conjunction with an unusual item called a broche spit. Many of the implements that we have inherited from the cooks of the past have not come down to us with an instruction manual and the broche spit is no exception. But with a bit of common sense and a little knowledge gained from experience, it does not take much of an effort to figure out that this device was designed for suspending large birds under a bottle jack. There is a line drawing of such an arrangement in Seymour Lindsay's classic Iron and Brass Implements of the English Home (London: 1927), which I have reproduced below.
I am fortunate enough to own a broche spit very similar to the one above, so it was with this that I decided to roast my Christmas Eve gift.
|The bottle jack and broche spit in my kitchen.|
After stuffing the turkey, I trussed it and stringed it as in the images below. A large flat skewer was pushed through the pinions, (the terminal section of the turkey's wings). Then the skewer on the broche spit is inserted between the bones of both legs, at the same time pushing it through the abdomen.
|A nineteenth century print showing how to string a turkey for a bottle jack. When you use a broche spit, you do not need the top skewer which goes through the scaly part of the legs.|
The photo below shows a goose which was roasted on one of my courses - trussed, strung and ready for putting down to the fire. A turkey is prepared in exactly the same way. The string will hold the bird on the broche spit even when the flesh softens and there is a likelihood of it falling off the skewers.
|Basting a goose with some melted butter before putting it down to the fire. Photo: Michal Finlay|
|As the bottle jack rotates, my Christmas Day turkey starts to brown in front of a very fierce fire.|
|The finished bird.|
Go to the Historic Food Website.